I had the good fortune to witness the Volleyball International Test between India and Russia. Russia enjoyed the reputation of being one of the strongest volleyball teams in the world.
I never expected that our players would win, but I knew and wished that they would make a strong bid to win. I was not disappointed.
The game was played in our Ranji stadium. I have reasons, to remember the match. I never saw such a big crowd turn out to see a volleyball game. It is not a very popular game with us. It was a grand and thrilling encounter. One enthusiastic sports commentator wrote: “Smashing, blocking, and boosting superbly, India, who rose to heights of unexpected greatness, defeated Russia by three games to one in the first unofficial volleyball Test”.
From the very first game, the Indians showed their will to win. They secured an early lead but the Russians slowly drew level. A fierce battle for supremacy followed; but in the end, the Indians asserted their mastery and came out winners with 15 to 12 in their favour in the first game.
The visitors then realised the seriousness of the situation, but it was a ding-dong affair, each party alternatively establishing a lead, right up to 15-15. It was once again a wonderful rally in the last few minute that secured the game to India.
The third game was Russia’s game. They had regained their shaken confidence and played coolly and with determination. Our boys were out-played and they lost the game with 15 to 9 in Russia’s favour.
It was now India’s turn. The Russians began well, instead of attacking strongly they took to defending desperately. Confidently our boys pressed home their advantages and won the game and the set at 15 to 9.
It was certainly a grand victory and we did feel proud of the players who put our country in the map of international volleyball. The Indian players were never found inclined to be nervous. In teamwork, the Russians were superior, and we have to learn much from them in this department of the game. In confidence and stamina, our players certainly deserved the highest praise.