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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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S P O R T S

India keen to break jinx
Play Germany in opener today
Monchengladbach, September 5
Weighed down by history and an unpredictable form, India would get another chance to improve their track record in the World Cup when they launch their campaign in the premier hockey competition here tomorrow.

Podium finish unlikely
Pargat Singh The hockey World Cup will be a real test of character for India who have been struggling to make a mark at the highest level of late. Keeping in mind the Indian team’s inconsistency in big events, I will be very happy to see the side figure in the semifinals, for from there anything can happen.

India’s track record dismal
India’s track record in the hockey World Cup has not been much to write home about. Once considered the superpower in the sport, India’s run in the World Cup so far has not been very memorable over the past three decades.

Serena falls; Henin, Sharapova win
New York, September 4
Amelie Mauresmo settled old scores with Serena Williams at the US Open yesterday to keep alive her drive for a third Grand Slam title of the year. The French top seed has suffered more than most at the hands of the former world No.1 over the last few years and came into their fourth round tie with a dismal 1-9 losing record.


Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning the first set against Na Li of China during the fourth round of the US Open in New York on Monday. Sharapova won 6-4, 6-2. — AFP photo
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning the first set against Na Li of China during the fourth round of the US Open in New York on Monday. Sharapova won 6-4, 6-2.


Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar celebrates after dismissing England’s Marcus Trescothick during their one-day match at The Rose Bowl in Southampton on Tuesday. England set Pakistan a victory target of 272.
Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar celebrates after dismissing England’s Marcus Trescothick during their one-day match at The Rose Bowl in Southampton on Tuesday. England set Pakistan a victory target of 272. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES


Students suffer as SGFI factions fight
Meeting called to break impasse
Chandigarh, September 5
For the past couple of years, the functioning of school sports in the country has been mired in controversy. With two parallel bodies existing with each claiming to be the ‘‘original’’ one, it is the students who are facing the raw end of the deal.

ICC gives England extra time to name squad
London, September 5
England were today given extra time by International Cricket Council to name their squad for the Champions Trophy, brightening chances of star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff being named for the October-November India event.

‘Replacement possible if Haq banned’
Karachi, September 5
The Pakistan Cricket Board has said that it could announce a late replacement for Inzamam-ul-Haq for the Champions Trophy if the captain was penalised by the ICC in the follow up to Oval Test controversy.

Camp shifted as fans intrude into ground
Bangalore, September 5
The ongoing camp for Indian cricket team here was disrupted today when some fans watching the proceedings intruded into the ground and mobbed Sachin Tendulkar, forcing the session to be shifted to an adjacent venue.
Chappell confident on Sreesanth's comeback.
In video: Chappell confident on Sreesanth's comeback. (56k)

Zee Sports to telecast tri-series
New Delhi, September 5
Zee Sports will telecast live the tri-nation series in Malaysia featuring India Australia and West Indies, starting September 12.

IET-Bhaddal win overall trophy in swimming meet
Ropar, September 5
Overall trophy in men and women events was won by the IET, Bhaddal, while the CIET, Rajpura, got the best swimmers trophy in women’s events and in the men’s events, the IET, Bhaddal, bagged the honour.


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India keen to break jinx
Play Germany in opener today
Anand Philar

Monchengladbach, September 5
Weighed down by history and an unpredictable form, India would get another chance to improve their track record in the World Cup when they launch their campaign in the premier hockey competition here tomorrow.

The Indians run into host team and holders Germany in the opening match of the tournament which they have won only once in the last 10 editions.

With a refurbished team and a new coach in Vasudevan Baskaran, Dilip Tirkey’s men will also have to contend with Champions Trophy winners the Netherlands, grouped along with India in Pool B.

The Indians have been through a testing period since finishing 10th at the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the scene of their only triumph back in 1975.

“The players are motivated and we hope to do well here. Realistically, our target is to qualify for the semifinals,” said Baskaran.

Since Baskaran took charge of the team earlier this year, the team has had little international matchplay and this is something the coach is conscious of.

A four-nation tournament here followed by the Azlan Shah Cup competition in Kuala Lumpur have been the only preparatory events for India, besides the three warm-up games since their arrival in Germany.

Even before the Indians left for the World Cup, they suffered a huge setback when their penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh was injured in a freak accident.

“His absence will be felt, but then, we need to look forward,” said Baskaran.

The Indians have included rookie V. Ramachandra Raghunath from Kodagu, Karnataka, as Sandeep’s replacement. For this youngster, it is a huge leap from the junior ranks. He was selected from among the three probables who were tried in the matches with Belgium and Japan.

India’s approach in the league phase would be to drop as few points as possible, but their route to qualification for the semifinals has two big hurdles in Germany and the Netherlands, the teams that India have never beaten in the World Cup.

The Germans have rebuilt a strong side after winning the 2002 edition and boast of a team that has a good mix of youth and experience. They would be keen to present a farewell gift to their coach Bernhard Peters who is to move to football at the end of this World Cup.

But it is the Dutch that look the hot favourites to win their fourth World Cup, a record that would tie them with Pakistan. They have been on a roll this year, winning the Azlan Shah Cup, the Champions Trophy and the four-nation Hamburg Masters.

With two veterans, skipper Jerome Delmee and Teun de Nooijer, both playing their fourth and last World Cup, in their ranks, the Dutch appear all primed to take home the Cup on September 17.

Among other contenders, Spain and Australia, like the Dutch and the Germans, are front-runners for the title. Spain, who are without Juan Escarre who led them to their only Champions Trophy title in 2004 and the European championship in 2005, still look a team to beat with the crafty coach Maurits Hendricks prompting them.

Likewise, Australia too appear strong on paper, but there is a question mark over their “big match temperament” that has often seen them collapsing in the World Cup finals, just like they did four years ago, losing to Germany in extra-time.

However, the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens has boosted the team that will be without their key striker Grant Schubert, who was injured just before the team’s departure to Europe.

Pakistan would be spearheading the Asian challenge that also includes 2002 semifinalists Korea. But Pakistan’s recent record has been far from impressive, especially after the departure of their coach Roelant Oltmans (currently handling the Netherlands) last year. The green shirts can be handful on their day, though their current form hardly inspires confidence.

The same could be said of the Koreans whose thrust and speed can rip open the best of defences. However, at best, they could be classified as the tournament’s ‘dark horses’. — PTI

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Podium finish unlikely
Pargat Singh

The hockey World Cup will be a real test of character for India who have been struggling to make a mark at the highest level of late.

Keeping in mind the Indian team’s inconsistency in big events, I will be very happy to see the side figure in the semifinals, for from there anything can happen. But realistically, that is going to be very tough. Yet, there is a chance of finishing in top six, which to my mind is a decent finish.

Sure India has one win and two other medals, one each of silver and bronze, but it also needs to be borne in mind that all these three medals came in the first three editions of the World Cup and the gold came in 1975.

Since then in nine editions, India have never figured on the podium and that is indeed a tragedy for there have been times when the team has indeed looked good. The fact is a team needs to get into the semifinals to contend for a medal and India have not done that.

India has both Germany and Holland in their group, besides England, South Africa and Japan. They will need to make sure they beat the last three teams and ensure decent result against Germany and Holland to have a chance of making their first semi-final in more than 30 years.

This team will miss Sandeep Singh, for he was capable of pulling India out of a hole in a tense situation with his conversion through drag-flicks. His replacement Raghu will have a big responsibility, but he is not a drag flicker in the same mould.

Often we hear that one of the keys of today’s hockey is that tournaments are being won on the strength of their penalty corner specialists. Time and again, it is the penalty corner specialists who have been the top-scorers for their side. And that provided them with the winning edge.

While penalty corner specialists may seem to have become all important now, the fact is they always have been.

So, the onus for India will be on Kamalpreet Singh and Dilip Tirkey, who will also be expected to take the set pieces.

A few days ago I met Gagan Ajit Singh and he looked confident. He said the boys were combining well and I hope they do so in Germany, too.

That brings me to India’s first opponent for the 11th edition of the World Cup. India have always managed to draw a very strong opponent in their first game and that often sets the tone for the tournament.

The first opponent will be hosts Germany this time. We have often played them in first games. Though the teams are closely matched, Germans generally manage to get the better of us.

In the 1992 Olympics, we lost 0-3 and after that we were always fighting to find our confidence.

So our first match against Germany will tell us a lot in which direction we are headed in this time. The hosts, who could not manage to win the World Cup of football on home soil will be aiming to set that right in hockey. They are an extremely fit, aggressive and skilful side and India will do well to keep them in check.

Pakistan have a great World Cup record with four wins, the maximum by any side, but of late they have struggled which is why Sohail Abbas is back. The Dutch with Teun de Nooijer, one of the finest forwards in the world today, besides the likes of Ronald Brouwer and Roderick Weusthof start as favourites. And they also have Jerome Delmee and Taeke Takema, which makes them a solid side. — PTI

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India’s track record dismal

India’s track record in the hockey World Cup has not been much to write home about.

Once considered the superpower in the sport, India’s run in the World Cup so far has not been very memorable over the past three decades.

The eight-time Olympic champions won their only World Cup in 1975 beating arch-rivals Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur in the third edition of the event.

Under the captaincy of Ajit Pal Singh, the only Indian to lead the country twice in the tournament, the team got the better of Pakistan 2-1 in the final.

Surjit Singh and Ashok Kumar were the scorers in that memorable final which is India’s only success in the elite event.

India’ performance in the first two editions had also been pretty commendable.

In the inaugural championship at Barcelona in 1971, they finished third while they were runners-up in the next event in 1973 at Amstelveen.

But post-1975, when the competition became a quadrennial event, India’s performance has dipped considerably, twice finishing 10th (1990 and 2002) and once 12th (1986).

They have not reached the last four since the victory in 1975.

On other occasions, they have occupied the fifth spot twice (1982 and 1994), besides managing sixth (1978) and ninth (1998) places once each.

In the 10 World Cup spanning 35 years, India have hosted the event once in 1982 at Bombay where Pakistan emerged champions beating Germany in the final.

The next edition at London was the scene for India’s worst-ever performance, while Pakistan fared only slightly better.

It was nothing short of an irony that the match for the 11th and 12th places that year was fought between the two subcontinental rivals with Pakistan relegating Mohammad Shahid-led India to the last place with a 3-2 victory.

India, who lost all their matches except holding Germany (2-2), who eventually were runners-up, ended up below teams like New Zealand, Canada, Argentina and Poland.

On the other hand, Pakistan have the best track record in the event. They have won the Cup four times — the most by any country. Barring the 1986 debacle, they have never finished below the fifth spot in the tournament. — PTI

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Serena falls; Henin, Sharapova win

New York, September 4
Amelie Mauresmo settled old scores with Serena Williams at the US Open yesterday to keep alive her drive for a third Grand Slam title of the year.

The French top seed has suffered more than most at the hands of the former world No.1 over the last few years and came into their fourth round tie with a dismal 1-9 losing record.

But in a match that fluctuated from the sublime to the sorry, Mauresmo steadied her nerves to pull through 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 and qualify for a quarterfinal tie against Dinara Safina of Russia.

Second, third and fourth seeds Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva, both of Russia, all took their allotted slots in the last eight. But another Russian 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova fell to the slowly improving Serb Jelena Jankovic.

Former winner Lindsay Davenport kept home hopes alive with a straight sets win over Patty Schnyder, with the other quarterfinal spot going to Mauresmo’s compatriot Tatiana Golovin.

In the last eight, Mauresmo plays Safina, Sharapova takes on Golovin, Jankovic goes up against Dementieva and Davenport faces Henin-Hardenne.

In the men’s tournament, second seed Rafael Nadal of Spain reached the quarterfinals for the first time and was joined by Andy Roddick of the United States and Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. Roddick had the satisfaction of downing Benjamin Becker, the German who brought Andre Agassi’s career to an end on Sunday.

The top seed is aiming to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2002 to win three Grand Slam titles in the same year.

Sharapova, who is on course for a semifinal meeting with Mauresmo, went 1-4 down to China’s top player Li Na before hitting top gear and winning in straights sets 6-4, 6-2 for the fourth straight game.

Henin-Hardenne barely raised sweat in her 6-1, 6-0 rout over Israel’s Shahar Peer taking advantage of her dominance to put in some serve/volley tactics which she says she has been working on for the last few weeks since her Wimbledon final loss to Mauresmo.

The Belgian’s next opponent, Davenport, said she was surprised to have got so far in the tournament bearing in mind the back injury that has laid her low for most of the year. The American has lost her last six matches against Henin-Hardenne and says she has yet to work out how to turn the tables.

Paes-Damm win; Sania ousted

Leander Paes kept Indian hopes alive at the US Open by moving into the quarterfinals of the men’s doubles event while Sania Mirza lost her third round women’s doubles match to end her campaign at the Grand Slam tournament.

Sixth seeds Paes and his Czech partner Martin Damm yesterday registered a facile 6-4, 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen of Finland and Graydon Oliver of the USA to reach the last eight. The opponents of Paes and Damm in the quarterfinals are yet to be ascertained.

Sania’s campaign ended on a disappointing note as the Indian ace, combining with Liezel Huber of South Africa, went down to sixth seeds Czech Kveta Peschke and Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-3, 3-6, 5-7.

The 11th-seeded Indo-African duo had earlier won the Bangalore Open earlier this year.

The Peschke-Schiavone pairing will meet second-seeded Chinese pair of Zi Yan and Jie Zheng in the quarterfinals.

In boys’ doubles, Rupesh Roy along with Roberto Maytin of Venezuala cruised to the second round by posting a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win over home pair of Chase Buchanan and Marcus Fugate. However, in boys’ singles, 15th seed Jeevan Neduncheziyan was toppled by Michal Konecny of Czech Republic in straight sets 6-1, 6-0. — AFP, PTI

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Students suffer as SGFI factions fight
Meeting called to break impasse
Abhijit Chatterjee

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
For the past couple of years, the functioning of school sports in the country has been mired in controversy. With two parallel bodies existing with each claiming to be the ‘‘original’’ one, it is the students who are facing the raw end of the deal.

They are unable to take part in international tournaments as both factions of the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) have been informed by the Union Ministry of Sports in June, 2004, that as long as the matter is sub-judice with the two factions existing, the government will not release funds for the participation of Indian schools team in international tournaments.

School sports is the foundation of national sports. One can name any number of boys and girls who had first made their name at the school level and then went on to represent the country with honours. But in the absence of national sports at the school level, the nation will suffer in the long run with the biggest raw talent available unable to showcase their talent at the international level.

Also, participation in National School Games have helped students to get admission in professional courses in engineering and medical colleges under the sports quota. However, in the absence of recognised National School Games (with both factions organising National School Games with depleted participation) this admission route is also closed to the students who want to mix a career in sports with academics.

Now in an effort to break the impasse and form an amalgamated body which could promote school sports both at the national level as well at the international level, Mr Ravinder Talwar, president of one of the factions of the School Games Federation of India, has invited members of both factions to a meeting in Chandigarh on September 10 to see if the impasse could be broken. While extending the invitation Mr Talwar has offered to bear all expenses of the meeting.

In a letter to all affiliated units, Mr Talwar has pointed out ‘‘it is clear that young upcoming players are being deprived of the opportunity to represent the country for no fault of their. The court case is still pending and considering the interest of the players the whole matter needs detailed deliberations to come to certain decisions.’’

In their desperation to represent the country in any international tournament Mr Talwar referred to the team which was cleared by the government to take part in the second Commonwealth Cricket Tournament held in Australia in July this year for under-16 players. The tournament was organised by School Sports Australia and four countries — India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia — were scheduled to take part in it.

Each state was asked to contribute Rs 70,000 per player to meet the kitting and travel expenses and the money was reportedly played by the boys themselves due to the infighting in the national body. And to add to the misery of the cricketers, the tournament turned out into a farce with both Pakistan and New Zealand staying away.

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ICC gives England extra time to name squad

London, September 5
England were today given extra time by International Cricket Council (ICC) to name their squad for the Champions Trophy, brightening chances of star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff being named for the October-November India event.

Flintoff is recovering since undergoing a second operation on his left ankle in July and now undergoing warm-weather training in Portugal.

With the ICC extending time till September 10, the day England play their last ODI of the 5-match NatWest series against Pakistan at Edgbaston, prospects for the talismanic all-rounder to play in India has brightened up.

The deadline to name the squad for the India event, which is being touted as the mini World cup, expires on Thursday.

“We’re extremely grateful to ICC for this concession,” Chairman of selectors David Graveney said in a statement.

“We have collected injuries during this NatWest series and we will now have more time to evaluate some of the replacements.” Fast bowler Steve Harmison, who withdrew from the Pakistan series with back trouble, will also be given further tests, the statement added.

With some of their top players like Harmison, Darren Gough and Ashly Giles — besides Flintoff — sidelined due to injuries, England had asked time extension to name Champions Trophy squad.

Flintoff would also be a candidate to lead the team if passed fit, and it would be a tough choice between him and current stand-in captain Andrew Strauss.

But Graveney said the selectors haven’t even discussed the question of the captaincy yet. — UNI

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‘Replacement possible if Haq banned’

Karachi, September 5
The Pakistan Cricket Board has said that it could announce a late replacement for Inzamam-ul-Haq for the Champions Trophy if the captain was penalised by the ICC in the follow up to Oval Test controversy.

PCB Director Cricket Operations Saleem Altaf said as per the ICC laws, a change of player is allowed for reasons other than injury in exceptional cases and because of this the board is not unduly worried about Inzamam’s replacement.

“That is why the PCB is not worried over this issue,” Altaf told Dawn while referring to the ‘Participating Nations Agreement (PNA)’ of the ICC.

Inzamam faced a ban of upto eight one-dayers or four Test on charges of ball tampering and bringing the game to disrepute following Pakistan’s forfeiture of the fourth Test against England. — PTI

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Camp shifted as fans intrude into ground

Bangalore, September 5
The ongoing camp for Indian cricket team here was disrupted today when some fans watching the proceedings intruded into the ground and mobbed Sachin Tendulkar, forcing the session to be shifted to an adjacent venue.

The incident occurred after a barbed wire fence on the compound of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (B)ground on which a dozen people were leaning heavily came down.

At least three persons received injuries, including one in the head resulting in profuse bleeding, but it was not life-threatening, police said.

A few of the fans standing on the sidelines watching the nets took advantage of the commotion, entered the ground and mobbed Tendulkar.

As Tendulkar walked back to National Cricket Academy in the same premises, he was seen being pestered by a man to pose for photograph, but this time the batsman had to "push" him back. — PTI

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Zee Sports to telecast tri-series

New Delhi, September 5
Zee Sports will telecast live the tri-nation series in Malaysia featuring India Australia and West Indies, starting September 12.

The Channel will also be conducting a live studio show — Cricket Cafe — from the Kinrara Oval Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

Zee is handling the production of the matches and its commentary panel includes the likes of Tony Greig, Ian Bishop, Arun Lal, L Sivaramakrishnan, Jeff Thomson, Justin Langer and Kapil Dev, the channel said in a press release here today.

Real Estate major DLF will be the presenting sponsor of the day and night tournament. Each team will play the other two teams twice in the league matches before the top two teams lock horns in the finals on September 24. The matches will start at 12:30 IST. — PTI

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IET-Bhaddal win overall trophy in swimming meet

Ropar, September 5
Overall trophy in men and women events was won by the IET, Bhaddal, while the CIET, Rajpura, got the best swimmers trophy in women’s events and in the men’s events, the IET, Bhaddal, bagged the honour.

These were the results of the 3rd Punjab Technical University Inter-College Swimming Championship which concluded at the Ropar swimming pool here today.

Some of those who won gold are: 200 (Men) Free Style — Kunwar Walia (IET,Bhaddal)

400 m — Simaranjot Singh (IET, Bhaddal); 800 m — Kunwar Walia.

Free Style (Women) — Sukhman Kaur (CIET, Rajpura); 50 m — Sukhman Kaur

Back stroke (Men)

100 m — Navjot Singh (CIET, Rajpura); 200 m — Navjot Singh (CIET Rajpura).

50 m back stroke (Women) — Sukhman Kaur

50 m back stroke (Men) — Simranjot Singh

50 m breast stroke (Men) — Rohit Dheer.

50m free style (Men) — Navdeep Singh.

In 400 free style relay (Men)— Bhaddal college

200 m Butterfly (men) — Karanveer. TNS

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 BRIEFLY

I insulted Zidane’s sister: Materazzi
ROME:
Italy defender Marco Materazzi has broken his silence over the verbal exchange that led to his violent World Cup final clash with French star Zinedine Zidane.
In an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport here on Tuesday, Materazzi revealed it was a remark he made about Zidane’s sister that provoked the French captain’s moment of madness. Materazzi said that when Zidane offered to give him his France jersey after the final whistle in response to persistent shirt-tugging by the Italian, he had replied: "I would prefer your sister.” — AFP

Sangrur school wins
Sangrur:
General Gurnam Singh Public School (GGSPS), Sangrur, won the north zone swimming competition, held at Rewari.
More than 800 players from affiliated schools of CBSE took part in the competition. The GGSPS swimmers won 31 gold, 33 silver and 17 bronze medals in various age groups. Jasleen Kaur was declared the best swimmer in the under-I6 category. — OSR

Chanu shines
New Delhi:
Angom Anita Chanu became the first Indian Judoka to win a medal in the ‘A’ Grade European tournament by winning silver in the German international Championship at Braunschweig.
Chanu, a SAF gold medallist from Manipur, won the silver in the 52kg weight in the tournament held from September 1 to 4, a Judo Federation of India release said here on Tuesday. — UNI

Kickboxing team
SANGRUR: Punjab will field a strong team in the 19th National Kickboxing Championships, to be held at Sohrab Public School, Malerkotla, from September 8 to 10. Team: Boys: Harpreet Singh, Jaspreet Singh, Amanpreet Singh, Azam, Gurliak, Naksh, Zafar, Matinder Singh, Yunas, Vidhu Anand, Sajid, Sahid, Nawaz Ali, David, Dishu Dewan, Tanzel, Manav Sood, Tehmeen Rattan, Abdul Manak, Waheed, Abdul Rauf, Farooq, Gurpinder Singh, Iqbal Singh, Dharminder, Yaseen, L.K. Krishna, Amandeep Singh, Sanchit, Danish Ali, Mohd. Zamil, Rahul Arora, Mohsin Ali, Rehan, Mohan Lal, Muzammibil, Surinder Pal, Mohinder Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Mohd. Anwar, Jaskaran Singh, Mohd. Shahid, Mandeep Singh, Sonu Kumar, Amandeep Singh, Rajiv, Jagdeep, Harjinder Singh, Sukhdeep Singh, Surjit, Parminder Singh, Tariq, Mohd. Kasif, Narinder, Prateek Rai. Girls: Simple, Cheena, Harpreet, Jashanjit, Khushpreet, Rupinder, Sukhpreet Kaur, Sandeep, Gagandeep, Sukhpreet, Lavisha, Deepika, Sapna, Aayu, Silky, Amrit Kaur, Geetika, Amandeep, Sandeep, Satya, Anam, Abida, Rukhsaar, Shabnam, Gursimran, Napinder, Samha, Nirmal, Nancy, Jooba, Maria, Gulzeba, Sadam. Coaches: Mohd Ishfaq, Vikram Sharma and Ms Mafia. Manager: Amarjit Singh Sekhon. — OSR

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