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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Tri-series in jeopardy
South Africa ready to leave for home
Colombo, August 14
The cricket tri-series was today thrown into jeopardy after South Africa, one of the teams in fray, expressed concerns about players’ safety following a bomb explosion not very far away from their team hotel.

Rain washes away opener
Colombo, August 14
The Unitech Cup cricket tri-series failed to get off today as the opening match between Sri Lanka and South Africa was abandoned following torrential rains that threaten to severely disrupt proceedings this week.

Sri Lankan groundstaff work at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, on Monday. Sri Lankan groundstaff work at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, on Monday.
— AFP photo

When Wright grabbed Sehwag by the collar
Christchurch, August 14
In an explosive moment in the Indian dressing room, Virender Sehwag was grabbed by the collar by the then cricket coach John Wright during the NatWest Trophy tournament in England after the opener had played a reckless shot to get out.

Tendulkar says he is fit
New Delhi, August 14
Seeking to put an end to the controversy over his fitness, Sachin Tendulkar has said he was fit and raring to go.

Pilot error claimed Cronje’s life
Durban, August 14
Pilot error was responsible for the death of former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje in a plane crash in 2002, a judge ruled today.

India split points with Afghanistan
Colombo, August 14
Favourites India got stuck in the muck and were held to a goalless draw by a lowly Afghanistan in their SAF Games Football opener at the muddy Sugathadasa Stadium here today. India will play Nepal in their next Pool B match on Wednesday. Sparse crowd, intermittent drizzle and a muddy ground at the stadium resulted in a pathetic display and maintaining balance seemed the most daunting task.


Sania Mirza arrives for a fashion show during the second day of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in Montreal, Canada, on Sunday.
Sania Mirza arrives for a fashion show during the second day of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in Montreal, Canada, on Sunday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES




Russia’s Elena Dementieva celebrates her win over Serbia & Montenegro’s Jelena Jankovic in the final of the Los Angeles Open tennis tournament in Carson, California, on Sunday.Dementieva wins LA Open
Los Angeles, August 14
Third-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva turned back a determined challenge from Jelena Jankovic here to beat the Serbian 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the final of the $ 600,000 LA Open. Jankovic, ranked 29th in the world and seeded 16th, won four games in a row as she roared back from 0-5 down in the third set before world No. 6 Dementieva managed to finish it off.



Russia’s Elena Dementieva celebrates her win over Serbia & Montenegro’s Jelena Jankovic in the final of the Los Angeles Open tennis tournament in Carson, California, on Sunday.
— Reuters photo

Sunil wins gold in world boxing meet
New Delhi, August 14
Sunil Kumar asserted his supremacy by winning only the second gold medal ever for the country at the World Cadet Boxing Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

Grapplers fourth in Asian tourney
Chandigarh, August 14
India finished fourth with three gold, six silver and seven bronze medals in the sixth Asian Cadet Wrestling Championship in Bangkok. According to information received here today, Iran claimed the first position winning 10 gold, three silver and five bronze, while Japan (6-4-2) and Korea (4-0-3) secured second and third positions, respectively.

418-member contingent for SAF Games
New Delhi, August 14
India will field a 418-member contingent for the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games to be held in Colombo from August 18 to 28. India will participate in 17 disciplines, including football. The contingent consists of 214 men and 106 women.

Punjab sportspersons pose with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh after being felicitated in Chandigarh on Monday.10 sportspersons felicitated
Chandigarh, August 14
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today felicitated 10 sportspersons for winning top honours at Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the World Shooting Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, here. They were given cash awards along with commendation certificates.

Punjab sportspersons pose with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh after being felicitated in Chandigarh on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Punjab cops beat RCF
Chandigarh, August 14
Punjab Police defeated Rail Coach Factory 2-0 in the 20th Punjab State Super Football League at Kapurthala today.

Video
Football lovers play the game on two wheelers to beat the monsoon fury.
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Tri-series in jeopardy
South Africa ready to leave for home

Colombo, August 14
The cricket tri-series was today thrown into jeopardy after South Africa, one of the teams in fray, expressed concerns about players’ safety following a bomb explosion not very far away from their team hotel.

South African cricket team is almost ready to return home tonight without waiting for a decision to be made tomorrow at a meeting with Sri Lanka Cricket authorities and Indian team management, following today’s bomb blasts which killed seven persons.

The team was only awaiting a green signal from the International Cricket Council to quit the Unitech Cup tri-series, also involving India and the hosts Sri Lanka, without playing even a single match, it was learnt.

“After gathering all the facts the team management will meet Sri Lankan officials tomorrow at 10 am and a final decision will be taken,” team manager Gordon Templeton had said earlier in the day.

The South African team management has expressed serious concerns about the security of its players after witnessing the second bomb explosion in last 10 days.

It was also learnt that the players were not very keen on playing here after the security delegation sent by the Cricket South Africa recommended them to go home following the explosions.

Counting all these factors along with the fact that CSA Chief Executive Gerald Majola was also supporting the players, the ICC may also agree to let them to leave the series and go home without imposing any penalty.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Cricket media co-ordinator Samantha Algama said SLC was concerned with the situation but had decided to go ahead with the tournament after taking into account the exact security scenario.

“SLC Chief Executive Officer Duleep Mendis held a meeting with the coaches and managers of the three teams and it was decided to provide maximum security to the teams, which was already in place.”

What South Africa seemed to be worried about, and what the media manager would not say, was the fact that the explosion took place near the shopping mall which was two km away from the hotel where they were staying and which their players had been frequently passing by during their stay in Colombo since last month.

The SLC statement that the series was on also seems to have upset the South Africa team.

“It definitely does not reflect the position of the South Africa team and it is that they have not agreed to (for the series to continue). As far as South Africans are concerned, the discussion is still on although the decision could go either way,” one of the touring South African journalists said.

Indian media manager Rajan Nair told PTI that “there was no question of” the team going back home.

“The players had done their gym, their lunch and were about to go for an afternoon practice session but unfortunately, it was cancelled due to rains. They are very much in the comfort of the hotel, there was no panic,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BCCI is in constant touch with the team management as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo and has been apprised of the security beef-up for the team. — PTI 

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Rain washes away opener

Colombo, August 14
The Unitech Cup cricket tri-series failed to get off today as the opening match between Sri Lanka and South Africa was abandoned following torrential rains that threaten to severely disrupt proceedings this week.

Players of both the teams were confined to their rooms as persistent rains left puddles of water on the ground at the Premadasa Stadium.

The umpires, Billy Bowden and Ashoka de Silva, and the match referee, Chris Broad, had a first inspection at 12.30 pm local time when the weather gods had relented briefly.

There were scheduled to do a second inspection at 4 pm but another spell of showers literally poured cold water on their hopes.

The tournament provides for a reserve day and the match will be played tomorrow. But with more thundershowers forecast for the next 48 hours it looks less likely that a ball would be bowled.

The tournament organisers also had to grapple with concerns about the teams’ safety in the wake of a bomb blast less than 3 km from their hotel of stay.

The rains, however, would provide enough respite for the South Africans who carry a couple of injury cases. Speedster Makhaya Ntini is yet to recover fully from a hamstring injury while Shaun Pollock has a lower-back problem. Both were supposed to undergo fitness tests today but had to forego it because of the weather.

Meanwhile, the Indian team had to twice cancel their plans for a nets session. Rahul Dravid and his men were scheduled to practice this morning, which they postponed to afternoon after the skies opened up.

Later, they were about to board their team bus when rains came back with full fury and they had to return to their rooms. — PTI 

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When Wright grabbed Sehwag by the collar

Christchurch, August 14
In an explosive moment in the Indian dressing room, Virender Sehwag was grabbed by the collar by the then cricket coach John Wright during the NatWest Trophy tournament in England after the opener had played a reckless shot to get out.

The genial New Zealander recalls the incident in his just-published book “Indian Summers” while referring to the Indian team’s tour of England in 2002.

He recalls that India had bundled out Sri Lanka, the third participating team, for 202 on a very flat wicket at the Oval. “I had been trying to get Sehwag to temper his boldness which too often of late had crossed the line into recklessness,” he writes.

Shortly after skipper Sourav Ganguly had got out in the second over, Sehwag holed out trying to blast one back over the bowler’s head, leaving India 26 for 2.

“I had enough of players trotting out the ‘natural game’ line as an excuse for failing to take responsibility and disregarding the match situation.

“When Sehwag wandered in, I decided it was time for a ‘sort-out’. Not realising that my exasperation levels had soared into the red zone, I went upto him, grabbed him by the collar and barked, ‘What the hell’s going on? How can you come back in here after playing a shot like that and unbuckle your pads as if nothing’s happened. Everyone froze — it was like someone had pulled out a gun — and I turned on my heel and stomped out.”

Wright says in the subsequent team meetings he was told by the players that he had been a “bit rough” and the ex-coach accepts that he had indeed gone overboard.

As for Sehwag, Wright said he was face to face with the Delhi opener back at the team hotel. “Sehwag told me bluntly that he didn’t like what I’d done. I acknowledged that he was entitled to feel aggrieved, but added that I didn’t give a damn if he poured his heart out to every newspaper in India.”

Justifying his action, Wright says there was an urgent need for something to be done because it had not got to the point where the single-minded commitment to winning overrode all other considerations of the players.

“The volcano had been rumbling for a while, and it just happened to be Sehwag who triggered the eruption. He took it better than some of the others would have and we remained mates.”

The former New Zealand skipper said the Sehwag episode did not do the rounds by word of mouth or found its way into the press which showed “we were a pretty tight team”.

Wright also says he used physio Andrew Leipus and trainer Adrian Le Roux to keep track of the “temperature and mood” of the dressing room.

Wright says sometimes when he asked them if he had got it right, they frankly replied in the negative. “From time to time, outsiders who read too much into my public persona suggested that maybe I was too soft for the job, but I don’t think that view held sway on the other side of the dressing room door.”

Wright said whenever the players thought he had crossed the line from being frank to brutal, they gave him the cold shoulder.

“When you say ‘good morning’, they look right through you and keep walking. When that happened to me I’d answer for them — ‘Good morning, John’ and take on the broad message that there was a bit of bridge building to be done.

“Sometimes it would come out of the blue and I’d wonder what’s up with him, but usually the player was reacting to a verbal rocket or being dropped.”

Wright says he had to do a bit of “ego massage” at times when he realised that there was some justification in their sulk.

“The core message that I wanted to come through in everything I did and said was that I cared; I cared for them as people, and as cricketers, and I cared for our team.” — PTI 

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Tendulkar says he is fit

New Delhi, August 14
Seeking to put an end to the controversy over his fitness, Sachin Tendulkar has said he was fit and raring to go.

“It hasn’t been easy not being part of the team and I missed it a lot. But I am looking at the positives, and yes, I feel fit and just happy to be back. I am ready to give my best,” he told CNN-IBN in an interview to be telecast tomorrow.

A fresh debate on his fitness had ensued after coach Greg Chappell said Tendulkar was still not fully fit and unable to throw the ball from the deep. But Tendulkar said his shoulder was holding up quite nicely now.

“I am a positive person and there is no room for regrets in my kit bag. You always want to move forward.” — PTI

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Pilot error claimed Cronje’s life

Durban, August 14
Pilot error was responsible for the death of former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje in a plane crash in 2002, a judge ruled today.

Judge Siraj Desai, who delivered his verdict in the Cape High Court in Cape Town on the cause of the plane crash in the mountains near the town of George, said there were other contributory factors also but the tragedy could have been avoided if the pilots had heeded warnings and followed procedure.

The two pilots, Willem Meyer and Ian Noakes, were also killed in the crash on June 1, 2002. The deaths could be attributed to the negligence of the pilots, Desai said, although the rainy weather conditions, the malfunctioning of the aircraft’s equipment and the landing system at George Airport also played their part in the accident.

The judge ruled that the pilots did not climb to a higher altitude when instructed to do so.

“The complacency of the pilot in command was surprising and ... the co-pilot failed under the circumstances to do what a reasonable pilot would have done,” Desai said.

At the time of the crash, Cronje was banned from all cricket after a match-fixing scandal. — PTI

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India split points with Afghanistan

Colombo, August 14
Favourites India got stuck in the muck and were held to a goalless draw by a lowly Afghanistan in their SAF Games Football opener at the muddy Sugathadasa Stadium here today.

India will play Nepal in their next Pool B match on Wednesday.

Sparse crowd, intermittent drizzle and a muddy ground at the stadium resulted in a pathetic display and maintaining balance seemed the most daunting task. While the dirt all over the players’ jerseys told the entire story, altogether five attempts were made on target by both the teams without any success.

India had a slight edge in the first half but their moves died premature death in the midfield muddle. In the 37th minute, skipper Zadinmawia Hmar’s ambitious right footer crashed into the Afghan side net and that was the only highlight in the mundane first half.

The Afghan side raised its game after the breather an M. Salal’s curling left-footer caught the Indian defence napping before custodian Shilton Paul thwarted the move.

India too could have scored in the 76th minute when an unmarked Beevan Karol de Mellow had a world of time and the Afghan custodian at his disposal but he couldn’t connect a cross and the ball rolled by the goal post.

Suddenly the Afghans sprung into action and the Indian defence looked vulnerable. On two occasions, the Indians almost got trapped in their offside traps but Bashir, who was otherwise in sparkling form, was the culprit on both occasions.

A dejected India coach Islam Akhmedov was visibly upset and said he didn’t expect his side do better. “On this kind of ground, you can’t expect quality soccer. Our boys tried well but the ground made life difficult for all,” he told UNI after the match. — UNI 

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Dementieva wins LA Open

Los Angeles, August 14
Third-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva turned back a determined challenge from Jelena Jankovic here to beat the Serbian 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the final of the $ 600,000 LA Open.

Jankovic, ranked 29th in the world and seeded 16th, won four games in a row as she roared back from 0-5 down in the third set before world No. 6 Dementieva managed to finish it off.

The 24-year-old Russian, who upset her top-seeded superstar compatriot Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, claimed her sixth career title and second of the year.

She also won the tier one Pan Pacific Championship in Tokyo in February.

Zheng spoils Myskina’s party

STOCKHOLM: Chinese third seed Zheng Jie upset world number 11 Anastasia Myskina 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Stockholm Open to claim her third career title. In a match delayed by rain on Sunday and eventually moved inside, third seed Zheng, the world number 35, won a tight first set on the back of well placed ground strokes and several unforced errors by 2004 French Open champion Myskina.

Doubles specialist Zheng raced away with the second set against the Russian, who also lost in the Stockholm final last year.

Federer captures Toronto title

Toronto: World number one Roger Federer captured his seventh title of the season, rallying to beat France’s Richard Gasquet 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the $ 2.45 million Toronto Masters.

The Swiss superstar was pushed to three sets in his three prior matches but reached his 17th consecutive final, one shy of Ivan Lendl’s ATP record.

Federer, who turned 25 last Tuesday, won his 18th match in a row and stretched his North American hardcourt win streak to 55 matches. He improved to 62-4 this year, 61-0 against everyone except Spanish star Rafael Nadal. — AFP, Reuters 

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Sunil wins gold in world boxing meet

New Delhi, August 14
Sunil Kumar asserted his supremacy by winning only the second gold medal ever for the country at the World Cadet Boxing Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

Sunil upset Agayev Ilkin of Azerbaijan, the bronze medal winner of European Championships held in June, by ‘Referee Stops Contest (Out Scored)’ in the final of the 50 kg class in the tournament that concluded yesterday.

Balbir Singh had last won the gold in the 48 kg division in 2001 in the second edition of the tournament. Indian colts have not won a medal at world level since then.

The unfancied Indian, who had prepared well by studying his taller opponent’s movements in detail ahead of the bout, led 13:8 in the first round of their encounter.

Chief coach Mahendra Singh Dhaka and the new Turkish coach Sefa Nar had clinically analysed Ilkin in his earlier bouts. They advised Sunil to stay close to Agayev and keep attacking him, as the Azeri was more comfortable playing from long range.

Sunil attacked him with quick short jabs and straight punches to the body and face in rapid succession while Agayev was backpedalling to keep the Indian away and tried to hit him on the side of his body.

Sunil was a combination of aggression and intelligence personified as he kept his cool and piled up a sizeable lead of 26:11 points.

For cadets, if the difference of scores between the two boxers is 15 points, the bout is stopped and the leading player is declared winner by ‘Referee Stops Contest (Out Scored)’. — PTI

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Grapplers fourth in Asian tourney

Chandigarh, August 14
India finished fourth with three gold, six silver and seven bronze medals in the sixth Asian Cadet Wrestling Championship in Bangkok. According to information received here today, Iran claimed the first position winning 10 gold, three silver and five bronze, while Japan (6-4-2) and Korea (4-0-3) secured second and third positions, respectively.

Medal winners: Gold: Narender Kumar (50 kg); Apoorva Tyagi (40 kg); Kumari Babita (49 kg).

Silver: Amit Dhankar (63 kg); Sandeep Kumar (69 kg); Parvesh (85 kg); Mausam (100 kg); Priyanka Singh (43 kg), Wang Kaushalya (46 kg).

Bronze: Surender (54 kg), Imran Khan (76 kg), Vishal Gorakhnath (85 kg), Rakesh (100 kg); Kavita (38 kg), Jayawanti (65 kg), Anmol (70 kg). — UNI

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418-member contingent for SAF Games
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, August 14
India will field a 418-member contingent for the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games to be held in Colombo from August 18 to 28. India will participate in 17 disciplines, including football. The contingent consists of 214 men and 106 women.

According Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi, the contingent was cleared by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports “at cost to the government”. But he said the managers were cleared by the ministry at “no cost” though the managers have to perform important functions.

Rangil Singh has been named as the chef-de-mission while Kamlesh Chatterjee will be the deputy chef-de-mission. C.G. Bhargava is the secretary-cum-treasurer. India will participate in archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, football, hockey, judo, kabaddi, rowing, shooting, squash, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball and wushu.

In the last edition at Islamabad, Pakistan in 2004, Indian contingent of 312 members featured in 15 sports. 

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10 sportspersons felicitated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today felicitated 10 sportspersons for winning top honours at Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the World Shooting Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, here. They were given cash awards along with commendation certificates.

The lion’s share went to world champions Abhinav Bindra and Manavjit Sandhu. Bindra was given a cheque for Rs 39.5 lakh, while Manavjit Singh Sandhu got Rs 34.33 lakh. Avneet Kaur Sidhu (10.25 lakh), Mansher Singh (7.33 lakh) and Amanpreet Singh (2.33 lakh) were the other shooters who were honoured.

Among weightlifters, Geeta Rani, who won the gold at Commonwealth Games, got Rs 7 lakh, while silver medallist Vicky Batta received a cheque for Rs 5 lakh.

Commonwealth Games silver medalist Harpreet Singh of Sangrur was presented a cheque of Rs 5 lakh. Silver-winning relay race members of the Commonwealth Games Manjit Kaur and Rajwinder Kaur got Rs 2.5 lakh each. Athletes Manjit Kaur and Rajwinder Kaur were felicitated in absentia as they are in Ukraine preparing for the Doha Asian Games.

The CM announced a special grant of over Rs 5 lakh to all shooters, except Bindra, for purchasing the new equipment.

“One cannot perform to one’s potential with borrowed equipment. So it is the duty of the state government to provide the necessary paraphernalia”, he viewed.

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Punjab cops beat RCF
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Punjab Police defeated Rail Coach Factory 2-0 in the 20th Punjab State Super Football League at Kapurthala today.

After Harshdeep put Punjab Police ahead with a fine effort in the 29th minute, Harpreet added another in injury time to fetch full points for his team.

Yesterday, defending champions JCT Mills edged out Bassi FC by a solitary goal scored by Reetinder Singh to maintain their dream run in the championship. Earlier, PSEB and RCF split points with a 1-1 draw.

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 BRIEFLY

KSCA clinch Bradman Cup
Bangalore:
Hosts Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) XI defeated Chemplast by 12 runs in the final of the Menz Active Twenty20 Cricket Tournament to lift the Bradman Cup on Sunday. Powered by C. Raghu’s enterprising knock of 55, which included four boundaries and one six, KSCA notched 143 for the loss of nine wickets in 20 overs at M Chinnaswamy Stadium here. In the rain-truncated match, Chemplast, chasing a victory target of 119 in 15 overs under lights, made 106 for nine. — PTI

Umpiring seminar
Jaipur:
A three-day seminar on umpiring standards and procedures organised by the Rajasthan Cricket Association concluded on Monday in Udaipur. According to RCA about 80 delegates from various districts participated in the seminar. M.S. Shekhawat, R.S. Rathur and B.L. Sharma of the BCCI umpiring panel were among the facilitators training the delegates of the standards and procedures followed by the ICC for international cricket. — UNI

Golf rankings
New Delhi:
The below-par show by the Indians in last week’s US PGA and European Tour events saw all of them dropping down in the latest Official World Golf Rankings issued on Monday, with Shiv Kapur being the biggest loser, slipping 14 places to 189th in the list. Jeev Milkha Singh’s failure to make the cut in the USPGA The International saw him go down three places to 147th. However, the seasoned pro continued to be the top ranked Indian and fifth placed Asian in the list. — UNI

Selection trials
New Delhi:
Selection trials for the Junior World Wrestling Championship in Guatemala would be held at Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday. The weigh-in for the trials will be conducted on the previous day, a Wrestling Federation of India release said on Tuesday. The competition is scheduled to be held at Domo, Guatemala, from August 27 to September 3. — PTI

Hockey tourney
NEW DELHI:
Delhi Customs toyed with IPGCL 6-0 in the Delhi State Hockey League at the Shivaji Stadium here on Monday. Mukesh Kumar and A. Chandi scored three goals each. Railway Board downed BSNL 5-3 while Indian Airlines nosed past Delhi Audit 4-2 in other matches. — OSR

Badminton meet
Dharamsala:
The Kangra District Badminton Championship, which was earlier scheduled from August 18 to 20 will now be held from August 16 to 18 at the Government Degree College, Dharamsala. All players should submit their entries to the office-bearers of the Kangra District Badminton Association on August 16 by 11 am at the venue. The draw would be made immediately. — TNS

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