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SCR begins on a winning note

By M.C. Raman

HASSAN, DEC. 22. South Central Railway, Secunderabad, despite being without the services of setter Ravikanth Reddy and coach Karimullah who are expected to join the team on Thursday, began its campaign in the six-team super league of the eighth National men's league with a 23-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-17 victory over Indian Navy at the District stadium here on Wednesday.

The defending champion took some time to settle down as spiker Srikanth began rather sluggishly. Indian Navy pulled back from 16-18 and surged to 23-20 with Shijas Mohammed being in an attacking mood. In fact, the Navy offence depended heavily on him and Shijas helped his team wrap up the first set.

However, SCR rallied strongly in the second set as Srikanth began to find his touch. Sudarshan Varma too picked up his game with some good down-the-line shots. Alongwith the attack, SCR's defence also improved as the towering Pradeep, substitute Suraj Singh and Sudharshan combined well in double block. Later Krishnam Raju also joined the offence and SCR took complete control.

SCR's sustained offensive, directed by Anil Kumar, unnerved Navy forcing it to throw away more negative points. Without much of a second line attack Navy struggled and in the third and fourth sets its defence also collapsed.

SCR surged to an 18-12 lead in the second set and 21-10 in the third, but it faced some anxious moments in the fourth when Navy made it 12-all. But SCR's block was too strong and the Navymen gave up.

HSIDC beats IOB

Indian Overseas Bank, Chennai, crashed to its second defeat as Haryana Small Industries Development Corporation (HSIDC) was in complete control from the beginning and won 25-18, 25-15, 25-21. Haryana, comprising several current junior and youth internationals and pro Amir Singh, whose performance was rather sedate today, hardly gave the Bank team any chance to fight back.

Jitender spiked with excellent control and Sanjay Kumar punched holes in the depleted IOB defence. Spikers Nadarajan and Sivabalan ran into a strong net defence, and with Dinesh Kumar, Sube Singh and Jitender coming together for quick block IOB found the going tough.

CR eves win

In the lone women's tie, Central Railway, Mumbai, fought its way to a 28-26, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18 victory over Southern Railway in 90 minutes. Without bench strength and still depending on Salomi Ramu, who has been around for nearly 15 years, Southern Railway was not able to break the rival's grip.

Southern Railway fought well but could not stop Central from winning the first set. Some good spiking by Geetha Raju and blocking by Shiju Kurian and Gayathri saw the Chennai team make it one-all. But Hemalatha, Priyanka Bora, Yogita and Kalindi kept up the pressure to take the third and fourth sets.

On Tuesday, Southern Railway, Chennai beat Indian Navy 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 in a men's match.

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