Christopher John was in fine nick as India upset defending champion Brazil 36-34, 22-25, 21-25, 25-17, 16-14 in the FIVB World junior volleyball championship at Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night.
India's victory, its first in the championship's second phase, spoiled the host's chances of entering the semifinal.
But despite the stunning victory, the World No. 7 finished last in its four-team pool, Group ‘F', and will now fight for the fifth to eighth positions with Brazil, Iran and Spain.
Argentina, the World's top-ranked team, and Serbia took the top two spots in the group and entered the semifinals along Russia and the USA, the top two finishers of Group ‘E'.
“I wish we had played this way against Serbia, so we would face Brazil with chances of qualifying,” said M.H. Kumara, the Indian coach. “We had nothing to lose and the team played better. John played a great match, as well as both setters (Ranjit Singh and J. Thennarasan), who were helped by our great receiving.”
Christopher John, the 19-year-old outside hitter from Tamil Nadu, had a great match indeed and was India's top scorer with 23 points while Dhanabalan Selvaprabhu, also from Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan's Katariya Lavmeet contributed 13 and 11 points respectively.
With Serbia jolting title-favourite Argentina, World No. 6 Brazil was under pressure for it needed a victory. The champion began well, leading 7-5 and a little later its captain Otavio Pinto won a ball dispute and helped Brazil move to 10-6.
The Indian coach M.K. Kumara called a time-out at this stage and the team was a transformed side after the break. John sparked the recovery as the visitor won the thrilling opening set.
Brazil won the next two sets, but John was in the frontfront again as India made a comeback in the fourth set. John, however, was forced to exit with an ankle injury with the score at 18-12 but India hung on to the healthy lead and won the fourth set and a little later, the decider after leading 6-3.
“Every match that goes to the fifth set is decided in details,” said the Brazilian coach Leonardo Carvalho. “We lacked calm and capacity to win the match. We made too many mistakes in the first and fourth sets.”
India plays Iran next on Tuesday.
Keywords: FIVB junior volleyball