January 20, 2018

Asghar Valika delighted with emergence of new snooker talent


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The father figure of Pakistan snooker and the Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Ali Asghar Valika, has welcomed the emergence of new snooker talent which augured well for the future of cue sports in the country.

“To me it’s heartening to witness the newcomers challenge those who have been around for some time. It reflects the depth of snooker talent in our country,” he observed in a chat at the Karachi Club Annexe on January 20. 

“Both the recently held twin events in the federal capital, the National Junior Under-18 Championship 2018 followed by the National Junior Under-21 Championship 2018 have brought to light quite a few emerging youngsters who can be groomed for future,” Asghar Valika, who revived the sport during his two decade long stint as the PBSA President, reckoned. 

“Muhammad Naseem Akhtar can very rightly be considered as the wonder kid of Pakistan snooker. He has already won the IBSF World Junior U-18 Championship last year. With more experience and coaching he can turn out to be an asset for the country in future,” he felt.

Asghar Valika, having also headed the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS), also expressed his delight at the continuation of his policy to spread the sport by holding the national events in different parts of the country. 

“In my time as the President it had been decided to hold the National Snooker Championships in the federal capital and the other provincial capitals. The present leadership of the PBSA has done a good job by sticking to the same policy and organizing the twin national junior events in Islamabad and allocating the National Masters to Lahore and the Nationals itself to Karachi,” he complimented. 

“Over the years, as a direct result of our initiatives and policies, snooker has spread to every nook and corner of the country and today the youngsters from smaller towns and cities are also making their presence felt in a big way. Snooker has certainly come of age,” the PBSA Chairman believed.

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December 30, 2017

Changing face of Younis Khan the great


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s former captain and arguably the greatest batsman to be produced by the country, Younis Khan, had a knack of being at the centre of quite a few controversies during the peak of an otherwise illustrious career.

He retired from international earlier this year, after having become the first Pakistani batsman to score 10,000 Test runs.

His tally of 34 Test centuries also remains the highest for the country and they may remain so for a very long time.

His Test record was nothing short of being incredible. He amassed as many as 10,099 runs at a highly impressive average of 52.02 in a career spanning no less than 118 Test matches.

These are truly outstanding numbers and even the all-time great batsmen would have been proud to own such a record.

Younis was seldom accorded the respect or the recognition he richly deserved. Obviously there was the ever-present element of politics in Pakistan cricket which played its due role in him not getting the status he was entitled for.

But another factor which contributed in him being in the news for wrong reasons was his temperament. For some strange reasons he was unable to handle the success which had come his way. He would have been better off having sought some professional advice in this matter but probably nobody was sincere enough to have guided him towards that point.

In fact there were a few occasions when his accomplishments were overshadowed by his inability to conduct himself in a befitting manner with the most glaring example being the events following the ICC World T20 Championship 2009 which Pakistan had won under his leadership.

Instead of becoming a folk hero after such an emphatic victory which had allowed Pakistan to lay hands at an ICC trophy for the first time after 17 years, he was found guilty of messing it up with the media corps who was there to report the arrival of the victorious team under his command.

It's not to argue here who was right or wrong or if Younis was provoked by someone at the airport but the fact of the matter is that the triumphant skipper should have talked more about the glories in order to capitalize on the resounding victory instead of engaging into something which could have been avoided.

The mercurial right-handed batsman, whose temperament and technique were exemplary in the cricket field, would have been better off having shouldered arms or ducked instead of having a go at the volley of questions from the journalists present at the airport.

As it turned out, Younis was boycotted by the furious media community and the then Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, had to arrange a hurriedly called breakfast meeting at his residence on the Independence Day where the misunderstandings were cleared finally.

Younis, as his awesome Test record testifies, that he remained a champion batsman all along. He was a fantastic captain too. He was a courageous fellow who dared attacking the opponents in the field. Alas he was found wanting, only off the field.

Well Younis, after having quit international cricket, has started looking like a different man now. He has been expressing his thoughts in an articulate manner and he has spoken sense more often than not. We all know that he understands the finer points of the game so well. It was just a matter of time for him to get into the groove.

It's very heartening indeed to find a positive change in his attitude. His willingness to be a part of the social campaigns is winning him more friends now. An exceptionally gifted player like Younis has a lot to offer for the game. As he cares for the society and loves the game so passionately we should be seeing more of him in future.

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December 24, 2017

Mahmood Lodhi invited for King Salman World Rapid , Blitz Chess


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s first-ever Grand Master (GM) Mahmood Ahmed Khan Lodhi has been invited to feature in King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship being staged in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from December 24 to 31.

“I have received an invitation through Federation Internationale de Chess (FIDE). It’s a great honour for me as well as Pakistan for its being the global event. The FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman has sent me the invitation for this prestigious event,” he informed reporters upon arrival from Lahore en-route to Saudi capital on December 23.

Mahmood Lodhi had become the first-ever GM in 70-year history of Pakistan when he won the Asian Senior s Chess Championship in Auckland few months ago.

“The World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will be the star attraction for the championship in which over 250 men players including world leading GMs, International Masters and FIDE Masters and host Saudi Arabian players will be taking part,” he disclosed.

“The week-long championship is expected to be a big success with the presence of so many stalwarts of the game. The host country is providing boarding and lodging facilities to all the participants,” he added.

It was revealed that a record sum of US $750,000 will be on offer in each of the Open events and US $250,000 will be the prize money for each of the women's event

The first two Rapid Championships (Open and Women) will be played from December 26 to 28 while the Blitz Championships (Open and Women) will follow on December 29 and 30.

The number of players participating in the World Championships is set at a maximum number of 250 players for the Open events and 150 players for the Women events.

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December 21, 2017

VFCC proceed to KL with high hopes of winning Titan’s Cup


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News &  Features Services)

Vital Five Cricket Club (VFCC), having emerged as one of the leading clubs of Karachi in a rather short span of time, will be participating in the inaugural KL Titan’s Cup T20 Champions Trophy Cricket Tournament 2017 being staged in Malaysia.

A 21-member VFCC squad, comprising of 16 cricketers and five officials, will be flying out to Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours of December 22 to compete in the two-week long international event. 

Left-arm spinner Faheem Ahmed will be captaining VFCC with opening batsman Hassan Mahmood to be his deputy. Saad Alam and Ali Imran are the other openers in the squad while Rameez Raja and Akbar Babar are the specialist middle-order batsmen.

Shaharyar Ali Rizvi has been selected as the wicketkeeper batsman while Yasir Hussain, Ansar Mushtaq and Khurram Shahzad are the three all-rounders. Waqar Anwar, Hamza Ansari Ammar Khan and Huzaifi Hussain Alvi are the medium-pacers while Arsalan Hussain and Shaharyar Tanvir are the lead spinners.

Javed Raza Naqvi will be the chef de mission while Waqar Hussain will be the manager with Jalaluddin, Anwar-ul-Haq and Haris Khan to be the head coach, the batting coach and the bowling respectively.

The 12 participating teams in the KL Titan’s Cup T20 Champions Trophy Cricket Tournament have been divided equally in two groups for the preliminary rounds.

VFCC has been placed in the Group B alongwith FRCC, Haji Baba CC, Pak Flag CC, TSCC and Eleven Star CC while the Group A comprises of Active CC, Islamabad Green CC, Moin Khan Academy, Spartans CC and Xchanging Warriors.

At the end of the league matches, the top four teams from both the groups will qualify for the knockout stage of the competition starting with quarter-finals.

Meanwhile VFCC hosted a dinner reception prior to the departure of the squad at the Karachi Gymkhana on December 19 in which Younis Khan, a former Pakistan captain and the leading scorer of runs and centuries for the country in Test cricket, was the chief guest. Prolific Test batsman

Asad Shafiq was also present in the ceremony, largely attended by the officials and members of the club alongwith the Kuala Lumpur bound squad.

Speaking briefly on the occasion Younis Khan didn’t mince words in stating that the promotion of club cricket merited greater attention than the development of academies.

He lauded the efforts of VFCC in promoting cricket from the grassroots level and then fast tracking the development of young cricketers by sending them abroad to compete in international events like the KL Titan’s Cup.

Javed Raza, Chairman, VFCC, shared the aims and objects of the club, expressing his satisfaction over its phenomenal growth from the outset which he attributed to team work and the blessings of the present and former superstars of the country.

“We envision creating a safe, enjoyable and productive environment in which club cricket could excel while our mission is to bring back professional club culture through structuring and by engaging into positive and competitive cricket. We are on course of achieving of achieving of becoming the top cricket club of Karachi,” he disclosed.

Jalaluddin, a former Test cricketer and Head Coach of VFCC, described the club as an offshoot of the Customs Cricket Academy (CCA) and both the institutions were working hand in hand to accomplish the mutual goal of grooming the young talent and preparing them for tougher battles.

He recalled the outfits of VFCC as well as the CCA have had excellent track record abroad, having won tournaments in India, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the recent past.

Khalil Masood, an ex-Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Patron in Chief of VFCC and CCA, complimented Jalaluddin and his team for having delivered consistently during the last couple of decades to raise the bar.

“Our concept of providing coaching, participation in competitions and welfare of youngsters has set an example to follow for others. Our team of coaches has done a commendable job over the years to attain their present status,” he acknowledged.

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November 29, 2017

Alamgir Shaikh to represent ACBS in IBSF Board


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Another feather was added in the cap of Pakistan’s top snooker personality, Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, as he has been nominated to represent the continent of Asia at the Board of the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF).

Zulfiqar Ali Ramzi, Honorary Secretary, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), announced that the decision in this regard was taken in the recent annual general body of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) held in Doha, Qatar, on the sidelines of the IBSF World Snooker Championships 2017. 

“Alamgir Shaikh, who is the Vice President of the ACBS, has been nominated to represent the continental body at the IBSF Board while Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, PBSA, has been appointed as the legal advisor of the ACBS. Both the appointments are great honour for the snooker fraternity of Pakistan,” the PBSA official acknowledged. 

In a brief chat, upon his arrival from Doha, where he had gone to attend the ACBS meeting besides watching the World Championship, Alamgir Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, vowed to continue playing his role more effectively in the further development of cue sports at the global level. 

“Indeed there are challenges to be met and I will bring all my expertise into play to promote the cause of cue sports on a larger canvas,” he added. 

A recipient of the coveted Pride of Performance award, presented by the President of Pakistan, in recognition to his services in sports administration, he remained upbeat about taking the Pakistan snooker to even higher level in future. 

Having served a couple of highly successful tenures of four years each as the President of the PBSA, starting from 2008 to 2016, Alamgir Shaikh, also a member of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), expressed the hope that the momentum as well as fresh efforts will continue taking the Pakistan snooker forward in the years to come. 

“Cue sports in Pakistan has come a long away in the recent past and our sustained efforts have yielded the results in the form of glories in almost every international event and more importantly we have prepared a crop of youngsters who are geared to move on,” he reckoned.

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November 27, 2017

Saldera Open Bowling explodes at Royal Rodale Club


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The fourth edition of All Pakistan Saldera Open Tenpin Bowling Championship exploded into action at the Royal Rodale Club in DHA, Karachi, on November 26 with lucrative Rupees one million prize money up for grab. 

Around 200 bowlers from across the country would be battling for top honors and heavy purse. Ahmer Abbas and Jannat Shaikh would be defending their men and women singles in the championship last year. 

The Sindh Tenpin Bowling Association (PTBA) is conducting the event on behalf of Pakistan Tenpin Bowling Federation (PTBF).

Besides men and women titles, Masters Open, Graded Singles, Women’s, Under 24, Under 12, Novice Beginners, Doubles & Team Event & Inter-Media categories will also be part of the contest. 

The winners of men singles will get Rs 75,000 and the runners-up will pick up Rs 30,000 while the winners of the ladies crown will collect Rs 10,000 and the runners-up to get Rs 5,000. 

In the other events like Open Singles winners collect Rs 40,000 and the runners-up take home Rs 30,000. 

The 19-year-old Ahmer Abbas had created history last year with a Perfect Game of 300 in Pakistan. He is once again firm favorites for the crown.

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November 11, 2017

Race against time as NSK renovation gears up for PSL


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It will be race against time as renovation and refurbishment work at the National Stadium Karachi (NSK) has geared up for holding the third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL-3) in February 2018.

The country’s premier Test centre has been without proper international activity since 2009 although an invitation XI, featuring quite a few foreign cricketers, had played a couple of T20 games against Pakistan XI in 2012. 

The Gaddafi Stadium Lahore has hosted a few international matches, including One-day and T20 series against Zimbabwe, last year’s PSL final, T20 series against World XI and recent one T20 against Sri Lanka. 

The pressure was mounting on the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to restore international cricket in Karachi as well. The PCB Chairman, Najam Sethi, then announced that Karachi will host at least four matches in the PSL-3. 

He also disclosed having tried his best to hold one World XI match in Karachi but the International Cricket Council (ICC) didn’t agree. He hoped that the NSK will be in line for hosting international matches in future after successfully staging its matches of the PSL-3.

Holders Islamabad United, runners-up Quetta Gladiators, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi and the newly included Multan Sultan will take part in the PSL-3 which is likely to start from the middle of February and conclude with final on the Pakistan Day (March 23). 

Meanwhile the National Logistic Cell (NLC) Engineering Department has been assigned the task to complete the first phase of the renovation work ahead of PSL matches. 

The PCB had awarded a Rs. billion NSK up gradation work to NLC with NESPAK as its consultant. According to the contract, the work has to be completed in one year time. “We are determined and eager to complete the task of first phase within the allocated time,” Project Manager NLC Engineering, Wing Col (Rtd) Muhammad Sohaib, stated. 

He said that they were using different work force for the purpose. It started with a work force of at the start and presently around 50-60 people were on the job “We use the work force as per our requirement,” he remarked.

A recent visit to NSK showed that all the 22 public bathrooms with 8 to 10 toilet blocks have already been dismantled while roof of the VIP stands including Hanif Mohammad and Javed Miandad enclosures has already been removed and this will follow in respect of other stands. 

The installation of 30 new hospitality boxes with attached bath rooms located technically on the fourth floor is also part of the first phase with installation of a modern lift for these boxes. 

The chairman boxes with capacity of around 100 signatories, teams’ dressing rooms, umpires rooms, referee room, physiotherapist room, and broadcasters and media boxes will also be renovated and upgraded with modern facilities. 

The 33,000 capacity stadium last staged a major international event of Asia Cup in 2008, a memorable event participated by holders Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The entrance of the stadium will also be improved and both the roads inside will be carpeted. Parking facilities for around 500 to 600 vehicles is also being created.

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November 9, 2017

Rangers Cricket Club set to tour Rawalpindi, Islamabad


Pakistan News & Features Services

Rangers Cricket Club, one of the oldest cricket clubs of the country, will be undertaking its annual tour of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and its 15-member squad will be leaving Karachi on November 10. 

Zia-ul-Hasan, Honorary Secretary, Rangers CC, which was established way back in 1960, informed that the club will embark on a 10-day tour of the twin cities where, as usual, they will be playing limited overs fixtures against the various local outfits. 

Imran Ali will be captaining the side with Mati-ur-Rahman, S M Babar, Fayyaz Ahmed, Rehan Sajid, Babar Hussain, Nasir Ali, Ahmed Hussain, Anus Mustafa, Khurram Ali, Jawwad Ali, Shoaib Khan, Sufiyan Ahmed, Shiraz Ishaq and Mohammad Saqib being the other member. Ali Akbar, a first-class cricketer, will accompany the team as manager.

It may be recalled that Rangers CC, affiliated with the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), had last year celebrated its golden jubilee in a befitting manner by having honoured its former players in a reception at the NBP Sports Complex, Karachi.

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