October 21, 2019

Jubilee looking for longer partnership with snooker


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Pakistan News & Features Services)

Jubilee Insurance, who teamed up with the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) more than a decade ago, looked forward to extending its sponsorship support into the future as well. 

Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, while speaking as the chief guest in the prize distribution of the 3rd Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2019 recently at the Karachi Gymkhana, hinted at continuing their support to snooker in the coming years. 

The insurance giants had initially joined hands with the PBSA in a big way, by having sponsored the 24th ACBS Asian Snooker Championship at Karachi in 2007 when the national snooker body was being led by Ali Asghar Valika. 

From the following year onwards they took up the sponsorship of the national ranking tournaments as well and the relationship became stronger and wider with the passage of time. 

They have been the major sponsors of snooker in Pakistan for the past one decade and during this period they have been motivating force in launching the tournaments for the teenagers and schoolboys in particular in the recent past. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, while acknowledging the cooperation of all the stakeholders in the transformation of snooker as one of the most popular sports of the country, lavished the sponsors for their continued patronage. 

“Now-a-days no sport can flourish or even survive without the sponsorship support. We have been very fortunate in this regard and this has been the single most significant factor to have contributed in the development of cue sports in Pakistan. They have enabled us to keep going despite the challenges we were up against. And we have responded by strengthening and expanding the game,” the former PBSA President stated. 

“We are committed to continuing our mission and we look forward to the government support as well as to the sponsors in the private sector to achieve our mutual objective of putting Pakistan snooker right on top,” Alamgir Shaikh concluded.

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October 19, 2019

Asif edges out Sajjad to win Jubilee Ranking tourney


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Top seeded Muhammad Asif played like a true champion to edge out old adversary Muhammad Sajjad in the final of the 3rd Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2019 at the Karachi Gymkhana on October 17. 

The 2012 world champion had to bring all his expertise and experience into play to tame Sajjad 7-4 in the best of 13-frame final with the scores of 61-53, 64-63, 36-78, 13-89, 83-27, 11-54, 38-61, 69-49, 69-64, 55-13, 68-14. 

As expected, the title clash between the two vastly experienced cueists, possessing big match temperament, turned out to be an absorbing contest despite Asif enjoying psychological advantage over Sajjad, whom he had also outwitted in the preliminary rounds. 

The 37-year-old Asif, hailing from the industrial town of Faisalabad, had to bring all his expertise besides reserve energy into play to overcome the 33-year-old Sajjad, belonging to Sargodha, has been a former world number two. 

The match lasted no less than four and a half hours. Asif, who looked supremely confident throughout the match, was delighted to have regained the trophy on the eve of the IBSF World Championship, hoping that he will be extending his brilliant form at the international stage. 

Sajjad, who has been crowned as the national champion as many as three times since his sensational entry more than a decade ago, vowed to continue working hard for achieving more glories in future. 

Asif and Sajjad, the two of the most gifted cueists of the country, produced another game of pedigree, as anticipated, in the final. Asif did win the first couple of frames but he was made to work very hard for it. 

It was a matter of time for Sajjad to open his account and he did it in the third frame by compiling a break of 57. He sustained the momentum to win the fourth frame which equalized the match. 

Asif put his nose in front by taking fifth frame but Sajjad made it three-all by running away with the sixth frame and moved ahead, for the first time, by pocketing the seventh frame with the help of a break of 61. 

More tense battle followed in the next couple of frames but Asif was fortunate to get away with it on both occasions and he made it count by winning the next two frames as well to seal the fate of the match. 

The final was followed by the prize distribution ceremony in which Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, was the chief guest. He presented a cheque of Rs one lac alongwith the winner’s trophy to Muhammad Asif. 

Speaking on the occasion, Tahir Ahmed expressed his delight at the performance of the seasoned campaigners who managed to overcome the rising stars of the country. 

Syed Usman Qaiser, Marketing Head, Jubilee Life Insurance, awarded the cash prize of Rs 40,000 alongwith the runner-up trophy to Muhammad Sajjad while Fawad Malik, President, Karachi Gymkhana, gave away a cash reward of Rs 5,000 to Muhammad Naseem Akhtar for registering the highest break (134) of the one-week championship. 

The total prize money disbursed was Rs195,000 as Muhammad Bilal and Sohail Shahzad, the losing semifinalists, got Rs 15,000 each and the quarter of losing quarter-finalists, Muhammad Ijaz, Asjad Iqbal, Abdul Sattar and Babar Masih, received Rs 5,000 each. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), during his brief remarks, acknowledged the support of all the stakeholders in the transformation of snooker as one of the most popular sports of the country. 

He reckoned that the emergence of talented youngsters has prompted the old guard to stay on their toes and seek continued improvement for success even at the national level.

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August 9, 2019

Surgeon Faiz passes away


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Surgeon Faiz Muhammad Khan, one of the founder members of the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and the Founder President of the Pakistan Association of Plastic Surgeons (PAPS), has passed away at the age of 79. He was buried in Karachi on August 9.

The PVCA Chairman, Fawad Ijaz Khan, and Mian Shaukat Hussain, a cricket commentator, in their condolence messages, recalled the services of the deceased surgeon who was a close friend of theirs. 

“Surgeon Faiz was a founder member of the PVCA when it was founded in 1998. Besides being one of the top plastic surgeons of the country, he himself was a very good cricketer. He was an accurate medium pace bowler, who had stopped playing cricket only a few years ago,” Fawad recalled. 

“The whole veterans’ cricket fraternity of Pakistan is very sad on the tragic death of Surgeon Faiz who was playing the game actively until he was 73 years old. He was working regularly at his hospital until the time of his death,” the PVCA Chairman added. 

Mian Shaukat Hussain, who played cricket with Surgeon Faiz for many decades at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground, also felt shaken at the death of one of his long time buddies. 

“We have had fond memories together and he was such a passionate cricketer who used to visit KG every Sunday. The last time I talked to him was just a couple of weeks ago. When reminded that we were missing him at KG cricket ground, he promised to return in a week or two. Sadly that couldn’t be possible,” Mian Shaukat remarked in a choked voice here at the Alamgir Masjid in Bahadurabad after offering Namaz-e-Janaza of the late Surgeon Faiz soon after Friday prayers. 

Born at Rajkot in Rajhastan, India, he and his family had migrated to Pakistan soon after independence and they relocated at Hyderabad. After doing FRCS from Edinburgh, he had also practiced in the United States before returning to Karachi to continue his work in plastic surgery. 

He was credited to have set up the department of plastic surgery here at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in the early 1990s. Upon retirement from government service, he resumed practicing at his own hospital on Shaheed-e-Millat Road which continued until the last days of his life.

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June 26, 2019

England, Australia humble Pakistan Super Veterans


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Over-60 outfits of Australia and England prevailed over Pakistan in their ‘international’ matches played at the Oswestry Cricket Ground in the county of Shorpshire during the ongoing tour of the United Kingdom.

According to the information shared by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), hosts England defeated Pakistan by a staggering margin of 267 runs in the 50-over game while Australia prevailed over them by 56 runs despite a brilliant century from Raja Arshad. 

England bowled Pakistan for a paltry 77 after having amassed 344 for the loss of three wickets in the allotted 50 overs. 

John Punchard topscored for the home side, with 76 off 91 balls containing eight fours. R Merriman (65), M Bowyer (50) and Barth Cilomen (50) also notched up half centuries while Haji Ashraf and Mansoor Akhtar took a wicket each for Pakistan Super Veterans, giving away for 47 and 48 runs respectively. 

Chasing a formidable target of 345 in 50 overs, the visitors collapsed under the scoreboard pressure, folding for a modest77 runs in 27 overs. Mansoor Akhtar (16), Sajid Kabir Khan (14) and Nadeem Omar (10) were the only batsmen to reach double figures as the innings was wrecked by N Stevens and M Young, who took three wickets each. 

The prize distribution ceremony was also addressed by Clive Ricks, President, England Over-60 Association, who informed that in England there were18 counties with 84 Over-60 teams and as many as 20 Over-70 Teams. 

Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, PVCA, praised the playing skills and fitness level of the England players, stating that in Pakistan Over-60 cricket was only being played in Karachi with just a few fit players available. He presented Man of the Match award to John Punchard of England. Ashiq Hussain Qureshi, CEO, PVCA, was also present on the occasion. 

The contest between the two touring sides, Australia and Pakistan, at a neutral venue produced as many as 542 runs in 96 overs. 

Batting first, after winning the toss, Australian Over-60 accumulated 299 for the loss of six wickets in the allotted 50 overs. Mark Brady (83 off 81 balls) hit eight fours to emerge as the topscorer while Murray Harrison smashed a couple of sixes and as many fours in his enterprising 55. Ray Smith (42), Mark Gashell (38) and Glenn Richardson (32) were the other major contributors to the Australian total while Raja Arshad, Babar Basharat, Mansoor Akhtar, Fawad Ijaz Khan and Ejaz Faquih were the wicket-takers for Pakistan.

Raja Arshad’s typically awesome stroke-play put Pakistan Super Veterans in the driving seat as the aggressive opener belted eight sixes and 13 fours in his 136 off 109 balls. Babar Basharat (43) and Haji Ashraf (19) also played fine knocks but the Australian rallied back through Michael Frame (4-60) and Dale Thornton (2-47). 

The Pakistan outfit was bowled out for 243 in 46 overs, falling 57 runs short of their target. Their consolation was Man of the Match award collected by Raja Arshad for his sensational knock. It was improved performance by the visiting Pakistan side, who had been outplayed by the hosts a only couple of days ago. 

Pakistan Super Veterans will play their last match of the tour against Cheshire County on June 26. Earlier they had also played matches against the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire before taking on England Over-60 and Australia Over-60 outfits.

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June 14, 2019

Fawad Ijaz Khan to lead Pakistan Super Veterans in England


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s Super Veterans (Over-60) cricket team will be creating history of sorts as they embark on a two-week tour of England on June 15.

According to the information made available on June 14, all-rounder Fawad Ijaz Khan, who is also Chairman of the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), will be leading the squad which is scheduled to play five limited-overs matches in England. 

Ijaz Faqih, a former Test all-rounder, has been appointed as the vice-captain for what’s going to be the first-ever tour to be undertaken by Super Veterans of the country.  
Ashiq Hussain Qureshi, CEO, PVCA, will be accompanying the team as manager while former Test bowler, Jalaluddin, who performed the first-ever hat-trick in One-day Internationals, and Kaleem Zia Khawaja will be travelling as the head coach and the assistant manager respectively. 

The Super Veteran squad also includes former Test players, Mansoor Akhtar and Ashraf Ali, besides P J Mir, who had represented Pakistan by the name of Pervez Mir during the inaugural World Cup in 1975, and Nadeem Omar, President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA).

Arif Habib, Tahir Shah, Basharat Ali Babar, Haji Ashraf, Badar Ansari, Aminullah Khan Raisani, Sajid Kabir and Nadeem Yousuf are the other members of the touring squad with Muhammad Akram and Altaf Aziz being reserve players. 

Pakistan’s Super Veterans will be playing a couple of matches of 50 overs each against hosts England and the touring Australian Veterans Team. 

They will also play three 45 overs-a-side matches against the counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire. 

They will open the tour with a game against Yorkshire at Woodlands Cricket Club, Bradford, on June 17 before taking on Lancashire at Heywood Cricket Club, Heywood, on June 19. 

They will be up against England Veterans at Oswestry Cricket Club, Shropshire, on June 21 before meeting Australian Veterans at the same venue three days later. They will play the final game of the tour against Cheshire at Warrington Cricket Club, Warrington, on June 26. 

Meanwhile the PVCA has expressed its gratitude to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, for his personal intervention in getting UK visas of some of the players from the British High Commission.

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June 4, 2019

Nadeem Omar delighted with Quetta performance


By Syed Khalid Mahmood 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Nadeem Omar, the owner of Quetta Gladiators franchise, has expressed his delight at the phenomenal rise in the standard of cricket during the last few years in the western province of Balochistan, whose capital in Quetta.

“At the time of the bidding for Quetta Gladiators about four years ago we were being advised by all quarters not to do so because of the lack of cricketing talent and resources in that province. But we had our own parameters of assessment and we went ahead with our plans. The results are there for everybody to see,” he observed in an interview at the sidelines of prize distribution ceremony of the 34th edition of Karachi Gymkhana Omar Associates Ramazan Festival Cricket Tournament 2019 at the KG Cricket Ground on June 3. 

Nadeem Omar, who was the chief guest of the evening, felt particularly pleased with the title-clash between Heroes Cricket Club Quetta and Quetta Gladiators Academy which highlighted the rising standard of sport in Balochistan.

“Isn’t it quite remarkable that both the finalists of one of the leading tournaments of the country belonged to Quetta? Their outfits comprised of players from all over the province and what a splendid performance they have come up with,” he complimented. 

Nadeem Omar, who was elected as President of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) last year, didn’t mince words in stating that integrated efforts were needed to groom the talent and polish the skills of the young cricketers. 

“Quetta, like rest of the country, has always been blessed with talented cricketers. They have come of age now after being taken care of during the last few years only. Obviously this is just the beginning. They will be hitting headlines in future,” he thought. 

“The enthusiasm and passion for cricket in Balochistan augur well for the future of the sport in the country. They will make the game more competitive and the national team will only become stronger,” he believed. 

He agreed that the title triumph of Quetta Gladiators in the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL-4) has been help in further motivating the cricketers of Balochistan in particular.

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May 6, 2019

MSAP back in business with a bang!


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP), fittingly a brainchild of Khurshid Hadi, arguably the brainiest individual to have ever been associated with sports arena in the country for a long time, is back with a bang. 

With a few like-minded comrades, he had launched the MSAP way back in 2007. He didn’t waste time to make the presence felt in a big way because the inaugural National Mind Sports Games staged at the Southend Club in Karachi in 2008 were nothing short of spectacular. 

Since then the MSAP has survived, mainly because of the man himself, because he never let it fade. He has had a mission from day one and he has been on it despite everything, the occasional disappointments included. 

Knowing him well enough, it’s not surprising that his MSAP has taken fresh guard and started with a bang again. 

They have joined hands with Shahzad Roy’s Zindagi Trust in the promotion of chess, alongwith The Citizen Foundation (TCF). 

“Powered by four-year sponsorship deal (2019-2022) with the Engro Foundation, we have now launched a major project of introducing chess at educational institutional level which will go a long way in achieving our mutual objectives,” Khurshid Hadi, the MSAP Founder Chairman and Director, announced during a media briefing at the Karachi Press Club on May 6. 

“The objectives of the MSAP have included the development of games of chess, bridge and scrabble by facilitation to academic institutions to establish mind sport learning/teaching and clubs. We promote public awareness for the value of developing minds especially among the youth while we organize local, national and international competitions to improve soft image of Pakistan,” he narrated. 

Emphasizing the significance of chess at school level, Khurshid Hadi shared the benefits of playing mind sports, which reflected on behavior, structuring of minds, reasoning, mental arithmetic, increase in memory, concentration and emphasis on ethical standards. 

He further remarked that mind sports also played an important part for betterment of health, protection against mental deterioration and also allowed gymnastics of mind for a person learning or playing chess.

Replying to a questioner, he talked about the plans of the MSAP to revive the National Mind Sports Games whose inaugural edition was staged with great fanfare in 2008. 

“We will be able to do it either by the year end or early next year. We are very interested and inclined towards reviving this event and it will be a matter of time when we do it,” the MSAP Chairman said. 

“It’s quite unusual for three social sector organizations to come on one platform but we, three NGOs, have decided to work together for the introduction of chess at educational institution level,” Shahzad Roy, a renowned singer, social worker and humanitarian, declared on the occasion. 

“Zindagi Trust, since its establishment in 2002, has been striving to improve the quality of education available to the under-privileged segment in particular. We have been trying to transform the education system through uniform curriculum and sports activities. Now, with the collaboration of MSAP, we are endeavouring to have chess included in the curriculum of various boards,” he announced. 

“Our collaborative chess initiatives will go a long way in transforming the lives of talented individuals. Chess is a sport which teaches wisdom and intelligence. Going by our past experiences, personally I don’t foresee hurdles or problems in having chess in the curriculum,” Shahzad Roy felt. 

To a question, he clarified that the purpose of the whole exercise will die if the students of the government schools were not its main beneficiaries. 

“It won’t an elite activity or anything like that. We will welcome all schools to include chess in their curriculum but our focus will be on the government schools,” he added. 

Besides Khurshid Hadi, the other MSAP officials present on the occasion were Kemal Shoaib, Tariq Rasheed Khan and Syed Pervez Iqbal.

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May 2, 2019

Dr Junaid Ali Shah protests at PCB’s hefty fee again


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The President of the Asghar Ali Shah Foundation and two-times former provincial Minister, Dr Syed Junaid Ali Shah, has lashed out at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for charging exorbitantly for the purpose of holding club level tournaments.

“I had protested loudly earlier in the presence of the then PCB Chairman, Najam Sethi, who had agreed to review the hefty charges in the interest of the game. He is no more a part of the PCB but those in power should have taken the responsibility to do the needful. It’s really sickening to have such regulations which pollute the atmosphere and damage the interests of the game,” he remarked during the media launch of the 24th Dr M A Shah Night Trophy Cricket Tournament 2019 at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium, Karachi, on May 2. 

“Since all the seven knockout games, starting from quarter-finals, have to be telecast live on Geo Super, we have deposited the PCB fee of Rs 15 lacs but we have done it in protest and we will continue fighting for the cause of the game,” he stated.

"As a mark of protest against the policies of the PCB we didn't have our matches televised last year but obviously we didn't wish to deprive the cricket community and we have chosen for the live telecast of our knockout matches as we used to do in the past," he added.

Dr Junaid Ali Shah, who is also the President of the Karachi Hockey Association (KHA), didn’t mince words in stating his displeasure with the existing policies of the sports bodies at the national level. 

“Be it the PCB or the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), they are often found in the news for the wrong reasons. They seem to be pursuing their own agenda without realizing the gravity of the situation and the harms their actions or inactions cause from time to time,” he regretted. 

Meanwhile he disclosed that the Asghar Ali Shah Foundation, established by his illustrious father, Dr Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, will continue meeting the costs of the Dr M A Shah Night Trophy Cricket Tournament. 

The tournament, to be contested by a total of 16 teams, to be divided equally in four groups for the preliminary rounds, will be offering attractive prize money with the winners to receive Rupees five lacs and the runner-up to get Rupees two and a half lacs.

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