India Under-23 volleyball team created history on Saturday by beating Pakistan and reaching the final of the Asian Volleyball Championships in Myanmar. This is the first time that the team has reached the final in the tournament’s history. By virtue of reaching the summit clash, India also qualified for the Under-23 World Championships.
Led by Amit Gulia, India bounced back after being a set down to win three consecutive sets to complete a 21-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-18 win. India will either face Japan or Chinese Taipei, the two other semi-finalists, in the final on Sunday.
This was the first sporting encounter between the two countries since the ICC World Cup 2019 cricket match in June. Both countries have avoided playing each other in sporting events given the political tensions which have recently increased due to India’s decision to scrap Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.
On Saturday, India began on a slow note and Pakistan dominated the first set with their defence. Many Indian spikes were met with dead blocks from Pakistan. But India gathered momentum in the second set and closed it comfortably with a score of 25-16.
The third set went closer with Pakistan taking a 21-20 lead but they lost composure in the final few points. Three spikes from Pakistan went out of bounds and India closed out the set at 25-22.
The fourth set was India’s best performance having derailed Pakistan. Service, net and block errors cost Pakistan dearly as they surrendered the set 18-25 and a chance to reach the final.
In the quarter-finals on Friday, India came back after losing the first set to overcome Australia, while Pakistan beat Kazakshtan. This was the first time that both teams had reached the semi-final of the tournament.
In the group stages, India had lost one game, to Japan, and won against China and Kazakhstan. Pakistan, on the other hand, had topped their group beating Chinese Taipei, Australia and Sri Lanka.