Defending champions India entered the final of the Men's Asian Volleyball Championships (central zone) brushing aside Pakistan in straight sets in 70 minutes at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Sunday. India won 25-17, 25-15, 25-22 and will play Iran in the title match on Monday evening.
Earlier, Iran beat Kazakhstan 25-20, 25-10, 25-19 in the first match and went into the final with an all-win record. What the Iran win also did was take much of the motivation off Pakistan's performance. Pakistan had a chance of entering the final only if Iran had lost and they beat India handsomely.
So as expected, the “fatigued” Pakistan team was no match for the hosts, who got their regular starting six for the first time in the tournament. Captain of India's bronze-medal winning Asian Cup campaign, Gurchand Singh was back after recovering from a foot injury and the team looked a lot settled.
With Gurchand’s return, universal and skipper Sanjay Kumar had a lot more chances to go for blocks alongside Sube Singh. Gurchand plugged holes left in the backcourt by his skipper and the two of them interchanged positions flawlessly to keep Pakistan guessing.
With the blocks now working, coach Desh Raj looked at peace but it was only half his problems solved. Monday's opponents Iran are far superior and have a more effective block. Their power-packed serves will surely ask a few questions to India libero Kanagaraj.
Further, India still have problems receiving and serving. A lot of jump serves went long or were caught at the net on Sunday and India's ploy of replacing G. Pradeep with Balwinder Singh just before service too did not work out as the youngster, who was part of the junior men's team that finished fourth in the World Championships in Pune last year, erred while serving.