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Provolley League: Spikers outsmart Defenders

THE ASIAN AGE. | ARUN GEORGE
Published : Feb 7, 2019, 6:34 am IST
Updated : Feb 7, 2019, 6:34 am IST

Ukkrapandian, meanwhile, said he was glad to be on the winning side and felt Ranjit's side had given them a good fight.

 Kochi Blue Spikers and Ahmedabad Defenders in action on Wednesday. (Photo: Sunoj Ninan Mathew)
  Kochi Blue Spikers and Ahmedabad Defenders in action on Wednesday. (Photo: Sunoj Ninan Mathew)

Kochi: It was a tale of two setters, two captains – Mohan Ukkrapandian of the Kochi Blue Spikers and Ranjith Singh of the Ahmedabad Defenders – set to outsmart each other. The mind game between the two maestros was just as intriguing as the main plot, and there were periods in the match when the mini battle took centre-stage.

It was unsurprising then that the winning team’s play-setter bagged the man-of-the-match award, which turned out to be Ukkrapandian, whose Kochi had edged Ranjit’s Ahmedabad 3-2 (10-15, 15-11, 11-15, 15-12, 15-12) to get their second win of the Pro Volleyball League here Wednesday.

For Ranjit, who incidentally, is the league’s costliest player and left on the fringes of the national side; coincidentally, by Ukkrapandian, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Everything - deep sets, short sets, dumps - the bank manager from Tamil Nadu did during the match the Punjab Police sub-inspector was resolved to emulate. The others players appeared minor pieces manoeuvred by the chieftains. Ironically, at 12-14 in the decider Ranjit served on to the net, gifting the match to his friendly rival. “Today was his day,” a disappointed Ranjit said post-match.

Ukkrapandian, meanwhile, said he was glad to be on the winning side and felt Ranjit's side had given them a good fight.

“We know each other quite well, perhaps more than any other setters in the country. We have been playing together for India for five-six years now, and I am happy that today my team came out on top,” said the winning captain Mohan Ukkrapandian post-match. He had a wry smile on his when asked if outsmarting Ranjit made him happier.

Ranjit had started the better of the two and his swirling serves gave the Defenders a 4-0 lead in the first set. He even dumped once, right under the nose of Ukkrapandian. The Kochi setter had a cheeky reply, coincidentally perhaps, aimed at none other than Ranjit to lead 5-3 in the second set.

The Kochi skipper later miscued a deep set to the amusement of Andrej but he made amends with two sweetly timed assists for David Lee as the hosts levelled the tie 1-1.

Bjelica had a huge impact in whatever happened thereafter and his vital block on Manu when Kochi had called for their super point turned the tie on its head, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Ukkrapandian rectified an error with a delicious drop to put his side on the cusps of a decider. Going into the fifth and final set,  Ukkrapandian who aced it, even quite literally, as he also hit an ace from a serve to show who the actual big brother was.

Tags: provolley league, kochi blue spikers