Dubai: World champions India will start firm favourites when they lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in the opening game of the inaugural six-nation Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018 on Friday.
The tournament will provide an excellent opportunity for the Asian countries like India, Pakistan, South Korea and Iran to fine tune their skills before the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang in August.
Argentina and Kenya complete the six teams taking part in the inaugural tournament.
All the six teams have been divided into two groups -- Group A includes India, Pakistan and Kenya while Group B has Iran, South Korea and Argentina. The teams in each group play two matches against every other team in their respective group, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the semi-finals.
As India prepares for the opener against Pakistan, it will be a test of character for either side that boasts of players who can change the game at any given point. Star raider Ajay Thakur, who led India to successive wins against Pakistan en-route their Asian Championship crown in Iran last year, will once again hope for a victorious start to the tournament on Friday.
Besides Thakur, the Indian team also has quality raiders in Rahul Chaudhari, Pardeep Narwal, Rohit Kumar, Rishank Devadiga and Monu Goyat in their ranks. The second match of the opening day will see 2016 World Cup finalists Iran take on South Korea.