Excitement buzzed in the air as the four dodgeball competing teams, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, huddled around the referees for the pre-game briefing. Veterans of dodgeball were warming up and stretching whilst newbies listened intently. During the first semi-final match Bangladesh advanced to the finals, beating Sri Lanka. Then, Malaysia won against India, in turn qualifying them for the finals against Bangladesh. In the final dodgeball match, India and Sri Lanka went head to head for the third place, which India claimed.
Bangladesh Vs Sri Lanka
Shortly after began the first dodgeball semi-final of the evening: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka. Bangladesh easily won their first match. Their number one player, Saleh, was established as a key player of the team. His cannon of an arm was integral to the team’s success and confidence. Things started heating up in the next match however when Sri Lanka had the first catch of the night, bringing back in one of their players and removing the thrower from the opposing team. More catches followed suit. The most exciting one bouncing right out of Saleh’s hands into the trusty hands of his teammate. It was a close match but Bangladesh still took the win.
That was not to say that Sri Lanka was simply letting these wins be taken from them. The team fought hard, and their efforts paid off in the third game which they won by catching the last two balls thrown, impressing everyone. Their surprise catches were unfortunately not enough as Bangladesh won the fourth match. Thus Bangladesh advanced to the finals and left Sri Lanka to battle it out for third place.
India Vs Malaysia
Next up were the semi-finals between India and Malaysia. By appearances alone it was easy to guess which team was experienced and which was not. Malaysia was decked out in Wolves jerseys combined with their knee pads. This gave away the fact that these players were in fact members of the university’s dodgeball team. Each team only threw when told to do so by the referees. Malaysia made every move strategically, whispering to one another behind their balls before advancing and firing away. On defense, all the players squatted low to make themselves as small a target as possible. These dodgeball tactics paid off and Malaysia ended up advancing to the finals against Bangladesh.
India Vs Sri Lanka
Another short briefing and then begun the third place playoffs between India and Sri Lanka. With a fire that was absent in their matches against Malaysia, India got a hit right off the bat. That set the tone for the rest of the matches. They were going to put up a much tougher fight this time. Sri Lanka too had no intention of losing, giving the spectators a dodgeball spectacle that was an absolute treat to watch. Both teams played offensively, wasting no time in their advances. India won the first match by a close shave, but Sri Lanka rallied and won the second.
The third match really looked like it was anyone’s for the taking. However, India suddenly hit both Sri Lanka’s last standing players, giving them a second win. Tension was high the fourth game. Players and substitutes alike made ref calls. At one point, the referee paused the match when the glasses of a player went flying in the crossfire. But the match was won by India, giving them third place after a tough fight against the fiery Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh Vs Malaysia
Then came the most anticipated match of the evening, the finals. The crowd watching had grown quite large at this point. India gave Bangladesh tips on how to play against Malaysia. Malaysia, cool and confident, walked onto the court all warmed up and ready to go. Much to the dismay of spectators who expected an all-out blowout, the first match started as a game of chicken. Who would stop faking and throw first? Malaysia were especially defensive, maintaining their squat positions for a good portion of the game. This strategy seemed to pay off and Malaysia easily won their first match, only losing one player.
Bangladesh switched tactics the second match however, leading to a much more interesting game. The teams fired ball after ball. For a moment, it seemed like the winner would be Bangladesh. But then their cannon, Saleh, was hit and their confidence was shaken. The match ended as a one on one. Yet, after a stellar performance from number 6, Hamza, Bangladesh took the win. As the games had taken much longer than previous ones, the third one was the one to determine who would take home gold.
In the third game, Malaysia quickly lost two players within the first few minutes. Bangladesh adopted an interesting strategy and used their female players as human shields. The entire match proved that the gold medal was anyone’s for the taking. Malaysia would make a couple advances and hit out key players from Bangladesh. Then, Bangladesh would throw two and hit two, just like that. The tight match ended with a one on one between Bangladesh’s other cannon, Hamza (16) and Malaysia’s number 14, a queen of dodging. The crowd watched, breath held as she dipped and dodged effortlessly. One would think that Hamza would grow frustrated but he was cool, calm and collected. His confidence paid off when he threw the winning hit that landed on number 14, winning Bangladesh the dodgsball gold medal.
All in all, no team gave up easily and a good fight was put up by all. Congratulations to Bangladesh for their hard-won first place and well done to Malaysia for playing smart!
Written by Nadhirah Anwar
Photographed by Lee Ze-Cong