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Indian spikers stunned 1-3 by spirited Saudis

Written by: Staff
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Doha, Dec 5 (UNI) Inconsistent and error-prone India went down 1-3 to Saudi Arabia in their second pool 'A' match of the Volleyball competition at the Asian Games here late last night.

In an engrossing tie, which lasted 94 minutes, India lost the tie 21-25, 22-25, 25-23, 23-25 .

The Indians, who had convincingly beaten Lebanon in their opening match, were favourites to win against the Saudis but made hash of the things in the first two sets and tried attempts at saving the match in the next set proved to be too late.

The Saudis, much lower ranked then India, put up a consistent display to emerge as surprise winners against their fancied but tentative rivals.

India were slow to get going and committed several defensive mistakes by the backrow, handing their rivals the first set in 22 minutes.

Rattled by the first set loss, India attempted to assert their dominance at the net early in the second set but could not shake their rivals with Abdullah Al Bakhet seizing every opportunity for points.

With the set in the balance, India made some crucial mistakes as Ahmed Bakhet extended the Saudi advantage serving two consecutive aces to give his side a 16-11 lead at the second technical time out.

When the teams returned, a massive block by Srikanth and his team-mates was followed by another from Pradeep allowing India to level at 21. However, they failed to capitalise on the momentum as more defensive errors -- this time by S Subramaniym -- saw the Saudis escape with the second set 25-22 in 25 minutes.

In the crucial third set, the Indians pulled up their socks and fought back well with Pradeep leading the charge. The set witnessed some good spiking and defence by the Indians and that created confusion in the rivals ranks. The Indians closed in on the lead by winning this set 25-23 in 22 minutes.

The fourth set saw both the teams score quickly as they went point-for-point in the opening exchanges but just when it looked that India were heading towards clinching this set to draw parity, a service error gave the Saudis an opportunity to level.

This was followed by a missed spike by normally reliable Rajeev Pillai and the Indians lost the set 23-25 to end up on the losing side.

Coach Chander Singh was hard put to explain his side's defeat.

''We should have won this match. We were favourites. But we committed far too many mistakes and at this level of competition these types of unforced errors can prove fatal and the same happened to us,'' he said.

''We played superbly against Lebanon and I was hoping that we will win this match too, which would have enabled us to top the pool. We still have two more matches -- against UAE and Kuwait -- to play in this league and I hope that boys will learn from this defeat and not repeat the mistakes in next matches,'' he went on to add.

''We still have a very good chance to qualify for the knock out stage. But if we had won against the Saudis we would have been assured of a berth. Anyways, let's wait for the next matches,'' he said.

UNI HSB PM BD1302

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