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Netball teams say no to play

Dhanbad, Feb. 23: Bitter remnants of yesterday’s free-for-all on the netball court led to both Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh refusing to replay their abandoned match today, and the visitors seeking more security till they left Dhanbad on February 26.

By not playing today, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh gifted walkovers to Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh respectively, but both sides stuck to the stance that they were the wronged party and the entire fracas was the fault of the other team.

Complicating matters further, the Andhra Pradesh contingent handed over a letter to nodal officer Devendra Singh, stating that the security provided was not satisfactory and the netball court was “highly unsuitable for players.”

The players demanded better security for every team member till they left Dhanbad on the morning of February 26.

The letter, signed by Andhra Pradesh contingent head G. Alexander Francis, left senior officials of the Netball Federation of India aghast. Some officials wondered how a team that praised the facilities a few days ago, could suddenly term them unacceptable.

The Andhra Pradesh team also expressed displeasure over the fact that only two Jharkhand players — Sushil Kumar and Mohammad Shamshad — had been suspended. The players maintained that all Jharkhand players should have been suspended for attacking them and it was to register their protest over this that they refused to play against the hosts today and their next match against Karnataka.

But Jharkhand coach Ritesh Kumar defended his team’s decision not to play Andhra Pradesh today and hand a walkover to Uttar Pradesh. He said two star players had been suspended while another, Parvez, was vomiting blood after being assaulted by Andhra players yesterday. Two more were unwell.

However, he did express the hope that all would be forgotten and forgiven soon. “We are feeling sorry about all that happened yesterday. We believe guests are like God so we should forget this incident like a bad dream and work together for a better future of netball,” he said.

On their part, Netball Federation of India president Narendra Sharma and vice-president Hari Om Kaushik said the matter should not be blown up further. However Kaushik said both sides were at fault yesterday.

“As both the teams knew that they would not qualify for the semi-finals, they did not think much about throwing away today’s match. My advice to both teams is to compromise,” he said.

While the feud between Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh raged, favourites Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh and Karnataka reached the men’s netball semi-final.

In the women’s event, Haryana, along with Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh and Rajasthan made it to the last four.

Tomorrow, Uttar Pradesh will clash with Chandigarh while Haryana will take on Karnataka to decide who will reach the men’s finals. The women’s semi-finals are scheduled for Thursday. Both finals are on Friday.

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