It will be a test of ice, rather than fire, in bone-chilling conditions as the Kerala men and Railways women attempt to defend their crown in the 61st National volleyball championship to be played at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here from Monday.

North India has been reeling in a cold wave, and it will be an added challenge for the teams apart from the problems of travel and accommodation, as they aim to capitalise on another opportunity to showcase their talent, in an otherwise impressive place of tourist attraction.

It may not be such a big problem for the leading teams like Kerala, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Railways and Services, as three of them from among four in the top two groups will make it to the knock-out. It will be the other 17 teams in the men’s section, in the lower groups along with the bottom-placed two teams in the top two groups, that would fight for the other two slots in the knock-out.

It will be the same case in the women’s section, which will have 22 teams, three less than the men’s event.

While the top teams will get to play only indoors, the rest of the teams will have to endure outdoor conditions as well in their attempt to progress.

The groups:

Men: Group A: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Railways, Haryana. Group B: Uttarakhand, Services, Punjab, Karnataka. Group C: Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir. Group D: Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Assam. Group E: Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar, Mizoram. Group F: West Bengal, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh.

Women: Group A: Railways, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka. Group B: Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. Group C: Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra, Haryana; Group-D: Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir. Group E: Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh. Group F: Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Bihar.

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