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Indian Spiker in medal hope

other Updated: Oct 17, 2007 19:36 IST
Khurram Habib

After failing to go beyond the quarterfinals in football on Tuesday, India kept their date with a medal in a team event when their spikers beat Brazil 3-1 in a close encounter to qualify for the semifinals in Hyderabad at the Yusufguda indoor stadium.

The Indians, who just a day back crushed Latvia 3-0, relied on blocking and managed to seal most of the Brazilian attacks.

Shijas Mohammed, the Indian captain, said, "We were surprised by their power game in the first set. However, we played to our strength, we are good at blocking and playing a fast game."

India's agility was on display as their libero, Arun Jakhmola, moved around the court with great speed. "He made a big difference," said team manager SP Malik.

The skipper also praised Rajeil Mathew and Siju Joseph.

After losing the first set, the hosts picked up their game in the second. They blocked well to win 25-17. Said Shijas, "We weren't worried in the third set as we had overcome the early jitters." India won 26-24.

The last set was more closely fought than the score 25-17 suggests. It began on an even level but India raced to a 6-3 lead. Brazil fought back to level the scores. From then on, helped by their opponents' mistimed hits, India surged ahead. Brazil would bounce back every now and then, but the Indians always kept a comfortable distance of 3-5 points.