Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: India staged a fine rally to spike out Pakistan 3-1 and set up a title clash with Chinese Taipei in the Asian U23 Volleyball Championship in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Saturday and in the process also secured a place in the FIVB U23 World Championships.
Earlier in the first semifinal , Chinese Taipei overcame Japan 3-2 in a hard-fought contest.
Pakistan, started the match in a great style winning the first set but the Indian spikers staged a strong come back winning the next three sets21-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-18 to storm into the final of the championship for the first time.
Pakistan, who came into the match in great form, failed to seize the advantage after winning the first set largely untroubled. India did run them close at various stages, bringing the score to 16-15 and 20-19 on two occasions. However, once beyond the 20 point mark, Pakistan didn’t give anything away to close matters quickly.
India’s start to the second set on a rampaging note , as both the key players Shon John and Amit Gulia found their touch. Pakistan was able to match India shot for shot until the 10 point mark after which miscalculations and chaos proved to be the undoing for the men in green as India t drew parity.
The next set once again began on a very competitive note with neither side being able to get a lead of more than two points till the halfway mark in the set. However, once again after reaching the 10 point mark, India raised its game up by several notches to put some distance between them and the opposition. Pakistan made a much stronger recovery to level the scores at the 18 point mark and 22 point mark. But Shon John once again emerged as the man for coach Pritam Singh Chauhan as he turned the set in favour of India with a series of decisive spikes.
With two sets in pocket, India seized the advantage in the fourth set and made the most of Pakistan’s frayed nerves. Pakistan made several service errors in the fourth set and weren’t helped by Fahad’s form which blew hot and cold. Amit Gulia’s boys eventually wrapped things up to take the set 25-18.
Coach Pritam Singh Chauhan asserted that the boys were under no pressure despite the match being a knockout fixture against Pakistan. He said, “For us, every opposition is the same. Our objective is to win and proceed to the next challenge. We knew our strengths and we stuck to them despite being down 1-0 after the first set.” ,
“The kind of comebacks these boys have made in the tournament goes on to show how mentally tough they have become in their campaign. As a coach, I can’t ask for more. I am extremely confident that whatever little errors they made today will be ironed out by tomorrow.” he added