A guide to Kabaddi – and how to bet on it

Kabaddi competitors wrestle in the dust
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In the first of a series of articles in which we take a look at unusual sports around the world (and their associated betting markets!), we turn our attention to one of India’s most popular sports – Kabaddi. 

If you live in India and ask a friend “What is Kabaddi?”, you’ll likely find yourself answering questions about the rock you’ve been living under. Kabaddi (also known as Kabadi) is up there with Cricket in the Indian sporting consciousness. It’s wildly popular as a traditional sport, and professionally Kabaddi has undergone a series of modernizing changes to remain in keeping with the times.

In short, the idea of one brave soul trying to cross a playing field against an entire team of defenders whilst effectively holding their breath is completely ordinary to your typical Indian sports fan.

Let’s dive a bit further into what makes Kabaddi tick.

How To Play

Kabaddi is a sport played between two teams, each consisting of seven players. The game’s objective is for a “raider” from one team to enter the opposing team’s half of the court, tag as many defenders as possible, and return to their half of the court without being tackled or held by the defenders.

The raider must chant the word “kabaddi” repeatedly while on the opponent’s side to show that they are not taking a breath. The defenders, on the other hand, try to stop the raider by tackling or holding them while also trying to avoid being tagged by the raider. Suppose the raider successfully tags a defender and returns to their half of the court. In that case, the tagged defender is considered “out” and must leave the playing area until the next round.

Kabaddi requires a combination of speed, agility, strength, and strategy. It is often played on both amateur and professional levels, with various leagues and tournaments held worldwide.

The Background Of Kabaddi

While it may now be a much-loved sport in Asia and other parts of the world. The history of kabaddi, a sport deeply intertwined with Indian mythology and ancient Indian culture, spans thousands of years.

While the exact origins of the sport are unclear due to its ancient nature, kabaddi originated in ancient India as a form of training for warriors or entertainment in rural communities.

Kabaddi is mentioned in ancient Indian texts and scriptures, such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, suggesting that the sport has been played for centuries. Villagers often played it to build strength, stamina, and teamwork and considered it self-defence.

Over time, kabaddi evolved into a more organized sport with standardized rules and regulations. The game gained popularity in the early 20th century,

Kabaddi has become integral to rural and village life, particularly in the Indian subcontinent. Matches were often held during festivals and celebrations, drawing large crowds and fostering a sense of community spirit.

As well as an enduring popularity in India, Kabaddi is also popular in other parts of South Asia, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. 

Over time and now in the modern era, kabaddi has undergone major transformations, with the establishment of various national and international governing bodies, leagues, and tournaments. 

Types Of Kabaddi

There are two notable variations of Kabaddi: Standard Style and Circle Style. Despite some similarities, such as the 40-minute match duration and the maximum 30-second time limit for a single raid, each format has distinct characteristics. In both styles, raiders must continuously chant ‘Kabaddi, Kabaddi’ during their raids.

However, the playing field, the number of players and substitutes, and the scoring system differ between the two styles. Circle Style Kabaddi further complicates matters with four different types: Punjabi, Lambi, Saunchi, and Goongi. Let’s delve into the critical disparities among these circle styles.

Standard StyleCircle Style
Playing FieldIKF Kabaddi Mats Rectangular, 13m x 10m, baulk line at 3.75m. Field is a circle with a radius of 6m each side of the mid – line. 
Number Of Player/ SubsAll players below 80kg. 7 Players start and 5 substitutes who can come in/out at any time during the match. No weight limits. 8 players start and 5 rolling substitutes allowed during the match. 
Scoring Systems Teams earn points via raids and tackles. Raid points for touch and bonus points available. 1 point for successful tackle. 2 points ‘All Out’.No ‘All Out’ or ‘revival’ in circle style. No raider allowed to go on successive raids. Players pushed out of bounds loses a point. 

Growth In Popularity 

Leagues and Tournaments  

Kabaddi’s phenomenal increase in popularity in Asia and now worldwide has led to the creation of various leagues and tournaments. 

  1. Pro Kabaddi League (PKL): Launched in India in 2014, the Pro Kabaddi League is one of the most popular Kabaddi leagues globally. It features teams representing different cities in India, and players worldwide participate in it.
  2. International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) World Kabaddi League (WKL): The World Kabaddi League is an international Kabaddi league that features teams from various countries competing against each other.
  3. National Kabaddi Championships: Many countries have their own national Kabaddi championships where teams from different regions or states compete for the national title.
  4. Inter-College Kabaddi Tournaments: Colleges and universities often organize Kabaddi tournaments where teams from different institutions compete against each other.
  5. Corporate Kabaddi Leagues: Some corporations organize Kabaddi leagues internally for their employees, promoting team spirit and fitness among staff members.

Kabaddi World Cup: If the invention of several leagues does not speak for kabaddi’s popularity, surely an entire World Cup dedicated purely to kabaddi will. The first event was held in India in 2004, and India emerged victorious. It was conducted by the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) in a standard style.Since its inception, India has remained a dominating force, winning gold every year so far and beating Iran in all three of the finals. In 2010, the first international circle-style World Cup was held.  

In 2012, the first Kabaddi World Cup for women was held. India secured victory once again for both male and female teams. 

If you want to tune in to the next Kabaddi World Cup, it will be in 2025. For the first time, the event will take place outside of Asia in the West Midlands, England. 

Asian Games: Kabaddi first appeared in the Asian Games as an exhibition sport in 1990. Like the Kabaddi World Cup, India has dominated, winning gold in men’s and women’s events in all editions except in 2018, when Iran won both events. 

Kabaddi Masters: The Kabaddi Masters, also known as Dubai Kabaddi Masters, was founded in 2018 and was held in the UAE. The tournament featured defending world champions India, Pakistan, Iran, South Korea, Argentina and Kenya. The game was held over nine days from 22 June 2018 to 30 June 2018. India and Iran met in the final, with India emerging victorious. India and Iran met in the final, with India emerging victorious.

TV Coverage 

Kabaddi is India’s third most popular sport after cricket and football and receives millions of views. 

As reported by Hindustan Times, the league hit a milestone in its last season, receiving an astounding 226 million views during the 90 initial league matches in its tenth season. This was a 17 per cent increase in viewing figures compared to season 9, with an additional 38 billion minutes of watch time, according to Star Sports Network, the official broadcaster of Pro Kabaddi. 

The vast increase in viewings only indicates the escalating appeal of Kabaddi among Indian sports fans. Kabaddi is the only sport in India besides cricket that has surpassed 200 million multiple times.

While India and other parts of Asia have long been the bastions of Kabaddi, the sport’s global recognition has surged since the inception of World Kabaddi in 2019. Today, Kabaddi is played and celebrated in countries far beyond Asia, a testament to its universal appeal.

Over the years, many European countries have welcomed kabaddi. The first-ever European Kabaddi Championships took place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow in 2019. Poland emerged victorious, defeating the Netherlands. The sport’s popularity was evident as even representative teams from the Royal Navy and British Army participated in an exhibition match before the final showdown.

The event showcased how popular kabaddi is and could be in Britain, so a UK-inclusive league of its own—the British Kabaddi League (BKL) was created. Last year, the BKL tournament was televised on the BBC; this will continue this year, with the finals taking place on the 18th and 19th of May. Major broadcasting networks like the BBC televising Kabaddi not only speaks for its increase in popularity but also will attract a wider audience. 

Despite its ancient roots, kabaddi continues to thrive as a dynamic and exciting sport that embodies the spirit of competition, athleticism, and cultural heritage.

Betting On Kabaddi

Kabaddi is an exhilarating, high-energy, and fast-paced sport, but nothing adds to spectating a sport like placing a wager. 

The rules around sports betting in India vary from state to state. Gambling is, in fact, illegal in India. However, there are no federal laws when it comes to online sports betting. A few states have recently made explicit laws against online betting. Despite that, the online sports betting market is booming, and Kabaddi is one of the most popular sports to bet on. 

Kabaddi Areas To Wager On / Kabaddi Betting Markets 

Game Winner/Draw

A pretty simple wager to place if you are starting out. You can either bet on either team to win or predict a draw. To increase your chances of winning and building a betting bank for future wagers, it’s advisable to study recent form and head-to-head statistics. 

Top Raider

In Kabaddi, a team on offence scores points through a ‘raider’ who must tag opponents in a single breath and return to their half without being tackled. When betting on this market, it’s wise to focus on top raiders like Deepak Niwas Hooda or Rahul Chaudhari. As they are such great players, their odds might not be very high, but you’ll have a good chance of placing a winning bet.

Top Tackles

On defence, a team scores points by successfully tackling a raider. Like betting on the top raider market, you should examine recent statistics to identify which defenders are performing well. Key players to watch in this market include Fazel Atrachali, Surjeet Singh, Manjeet Chhillar and Girish Maruti Ernak. In the most recent season, Mohammadreza Chiyaneh accumulated the most tackle points, with 99 points gained in 29 matches. Krishan was second with 78 points collected in 24 games, and Yogesh followed closely behind with 74 points in 23 matches. 

Team to Earn 15 Points in the 1st half

Kabaddi is usually a high-scoring game, but it can become more defensive when two top defences face each other. In the Pro Kabaddi League, you can bet on whether a team will score 15 points in the first half. This straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ market is best suited for experienced bettors who deeply understand the teams’ playing styles.

Outright Winner

If you catch the Pro Kabaddi before the season begins, you could place a wager on the team you think will be the outright winner – this will be where a lot of the main action will be. In this market, you bet on who you think will be the Pro Kabaddi League Champions at the end of the season. According to the Pro Kabaddi site, some of the most successful teams in recent years include Puneri Paltan Patna Pirates, Bengaluru Bulls, and the 2017 and 2018 runners-up Gujarat Fortune Giants.

So now you know the best betting markets to place a bet on; if you want to know the biggest Kabaddi events to wager on, look back at the tournaments part of this article. 

Finding the best Kabaddi Odds 

As with wagering online on any sport, it is important to look around and find the best odds to get the most out of your buck. There are no current odds available for Kabaddi; however, in our research on the Kabaddi Pro League, we found there are a few bookmakers offering prices. Search around for the best prices.

Live Kabaddi Betting

Kabaddi matches can change quickly, making live betting an exciting option. If you’re new to Kabaddi betting, watch as many games as possible on TV before attempting live or in-play betting. Familiarizing yourself with the teams and players will help you better read matches as they unfold, giving you a higher chance of successful live betting.

Live Streaming

Watching the match live is crucial for betting in-play on Kabaddi. One of the most reliable bookmakers for live-streaming sports in India is Bet365. However, the streaming rights for the next Pro Kabaddi League haven’t been confirmed yet, so we can’t guarantee that Bet365 will have live Kabaddi streaming this year. If any site offers live streaming, Bet365 is likely to. Check back for updates on live Kabaddi streaming availability as the next event approaches.

Betting Advice 

Know Your Markets—Before betting on Kabaddi, do your research and familiarize yourself with the most popular betting markets. The more games you watch, the better you’ll understand Kabaddi itself, the teams, and the players, which will be invaluable when betting on match outcomes or individual player performances.

Form Your Own Opinions – The best way to make a wager would be to do in-depth research and go off your own opinion. Avoid mindlessly following Kabaddi betting tips found online. You can’t be sure if the ‘tipster’ has ties to bookmakers or if their advice is trustworthy. It’s best to form your own opinions and not rely on unverified tips.

Have a Staking Plan—The following rule applies to any sport: gamble responsibly. It’s crucial to have a defined staking plan when betting on Kabaddi. Avoid chasing losses or increasing stakes impulsively after a win. Stick to your staking plan and maintain discipline to make a long-term profit.

In Conclusion

As you’ve hopefully picked up from this article, Kabaddi is an old sport with a young soul. The pro scene carries the traditions that make it so compelling, and blends it into the large commercial machinery now familiar with any popular professional sport.

It’s not that well-covered by bookmakers outside of India, but if the sport piques your interest it could be a great option for you to delve into when your favoured sports are in their off-seasons.

Could Kabaddi catch light and become a sport every bookmaker is compelled to cover? It’s hard to say. Critical mass and a cultural breakthrough is needed to see a sport reach the launch velocity required to break out of its traditional demographic – but never say never.

Sports fans love close competition, personalities, drama, and strategic tactics to unpick. Kabaddi has all of these – so we might yet see it take flight globally one day.