South Korea has been winning medals in Asian Games since 1966, never missed in one single games.
Written by Astik Raj
The Indian Men’s Volleyball team put up a stunning performance by defeating the reigning silver medalists in the Asian Games. After thrashing Cambodia 3-0 last night, everyone expected India (ranked 19th in Asia) to finish second in the pool assuming South Korea (ranked 4th in Asia) will win comprehensively against India and Cambodia.
India won a 5-set thriller by 3-2 (25-27, 29-27, 25-22, 20-25, 17-15). The scorecard is indicative of how close the encounter was.
In a country where Volleyball is one of the most popular sports at the school or the university level, India’s performance has been very average on the world stage. Especially in the last decade or so, India’s ranking has declined, ranked 34th in 2014, it is now ranked 73rd in the FIVB world ranking.
During the 1950s and the 1960s, India was a formidable team, winning the bronze medal in 1958 Asian Games and the only silver medal in 1962 Asian Games. They also had hit a purple patch with the Indian legend Jimmy George in the 1980s, when they won another bronze medal in 1986.
With the announcement of franchise-based tournaments like Pro Volleyball League and later Prime Volleyball League, things are slowly looking good again.
Being not able to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 and currently ranked below its Neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in the world, they would want to settle down the things for sure.
Perhaps, this is the beginning of the epic turnaround, defeating three-time gold medalists and World Rank 27 is no less feat at this stage.
How it went?
It required something special from our stars to achieve what they achieved today, they served, received, dug, blocked, spiked and did everything to win this match. They lost the first set by a very narrow margin of 25-27 but held their heads high to come back stronger in the next two sets winning by 29-27 and 25-22.
Ranked 27th in the world, South Korea made great comebacks by winning the fourth set and leading the fifth set by 15-14. But then under pressure, they snatched 3 back-to-back points, all thanks to the blocks done by Manoj and Erin Varghese in the end, to complete the game.
Compared to Korea, who made 36 unforced errors in the match, Indians were quite disciplined with the tally of just 19 unforced errors.
Among Indians, Amith Gulia, with his smashes, registered the highest 24 points while the skipper Vinit Kumar and Rai Ashwal scored 19 points each. All in all, it was a great team effort by the boys.
In an interview later, Indian Men’s team head coach Jaideep Sarkar said.
“Korea only played a power game through the match. Jump and attack. Dead block and score. Boom, boom! If it comes off, it’s good, if not, it’s going against you. We played a cunning game against them.”
India’s next match will be decided after the remaining pool matches are over. In all probability it will be against Chinese Taipei