London: They turned up quite jet-lagged after landing here in the wee hours but Pakistan`s Lahore Lions roared quite loud in their opening match of the World Kabaddi League, comprehensively beating Vancouver Lions here Sunday.
The team, which landed in the city only past midnight and faced its fair share of logistical problems due to the late arrival, looked completely unfazed as it trounced Vancouver in a thoroughly professional performance. Lahore emerged triumphant 74-61 in the match.
Amid rather amusing scenes of British cheergirls dancing to the tunes of Punjabi Bhangra songs after every point scored, the Pakistanis, most of whom a part of their national team, displayed a wide variety of tricks in raiding and sheer physical dominance in stopping to outplay Vancouver.
"We landed only last night. We had slight trouble in getting our hotel rooms as well because of which we couldn`t sleep too well either. But the hard work that we put in during our practice sessions paid off today," said Man of the Match Shafiq Ahmed Chisti.
The burly raider from Sahiwal was the undisputed star of the proceedings today as he logged in 21 points. The 24-year-old said it was good to be part of a league which offers good pay cheques to participating players.
The players` salary at the ongoing event is whopping Rs 1.5 crore.
"The money is a big factor. To be paid so well feels good. Kabaddi is also very popular in Pakistan and people crowd the arenas whenever there are matches," said Chisti, who took up the sport while in school despite opposition from his family.
"My father used to thrash me because he felt it is a bad sport to take up but I could not leave it and now I have managed to convince them that it was not such a bad decision after all," Chisti added.
Not just there attacking prowess, the Lahore side showed some excellent defensive techniques in chasing down their rivals besides physically overpowering them. Mohsin Bala was their best stopper, contributing four points to the tally.
In fact, Vancouver`s raiders, for most part of the proceedings, struggled to outwit Lahore`s stoppers.
Vancouver did come back strongly in the last two quarters after being down 31-42 in the opening 24 minutes but the effort came too late for the side to have any shot at victory.
For Vancouver, Sucha Singh top-scored with 15 points, while Kulwinder Singh emerged the best defender with five points.