No place for Gagan Ajit in World Cup squad

CHENNAI, FEB. 15. The captain of the victorious World Cup junior hockey team, Gagan Ajit Singh, is one of the four players dropped from the group of 22 for the forthcoming World Cup hockey championship at Kuala Lumpur.

The Indian team, which is now training at Ipoh, would move to the World Cup venue a few days before the start on February 24.

It is unclear whether Gagan has been dropped owing to problem connected with his fitness or lack of form. He is known to have persistent back problem.

However, there were no signs of it during the month long camp here or even before the team left New Delhi for training at Ipoh.

The IHF selection committee headed by the President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, assisted by Messrs Prithviraj, former Olympian, Jalaluddin (Government observer) and the Secretary, K. Jothikumaram, watched the probables for two days along with the chief coach, Cedric D'Souza and other team officials at Ipoh before deciding to prune the list from 22 to 18.

Full back Len Aiyappa, mid-fielders Bimal Lakra and Vikram Pillay, along with Gagan Ajit Singh, have also been omitted. Veteran Baljit Singh Saini has worked his way into the final 18. There was also doubt over retaining Bipin Fernandez, but his utility value perhaps prevailed among the option debated.

The final 18: Jude Menezes and Devesh Chauhan; Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Kanwalpreet Singh; Jugraj Singh, Sukhbir Singh Gill, Ignace Tirkey, Baljit Singh Saini, Tirumalvalavan and Bipin Fernandez; Deepak Thakur, Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon (captain), Sabu Varkey, Daljit Singh Dhillon, Arjun Halappa, and Prabhjot Singh.

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