December 5, 2019

Sindh Archery Championship creates buzz, excitement


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Hosts Karachi dominated the Sindh Archery Championship 2019 by winning the Inter-Division contests for both men as well as the women competitions which concluded at the Soccer Ground of the University of Karachi over the weekend. 

The two-day Sindh Archery Championship was declared open by Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi, Vice Chancellor, University of Karachi, while Zain-ul-Abideen Valika, President, SAA, was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony which was also attended by Wisal Khan, Secretary, Archery Federation of Pakistan (AFP), who had specially flown in from Peshawar to witness the event. 

The atmosphere at the event remained electric on both the days with participants showing great intensity. Various stalls were also set up to facilitate the players, officials and visitors. 

Speaking briefly on the occasion the SAA President revealed that quite a few archery events have been planned to be held in the city during the next few months, which includes the National Archery Championship 2020. 

Zainuddin Valika, appearing enthusiastic and animated, also hinted at hosting an international archery event in Karachi sometime in the second half of next year. 

According to the results made available by Mansoor Shahzad, Secretary, Sindh Archery Association (SAA), Karachi Division clinched the men’s contest in which Hyderabad and Sukkur finished second and third respectively while in the women’s category Karachi was followed by Benazirabad and Sukkur. 

Huzaifa of Al Nadi Ali Burhani Academy emerged triumphant in the Sindh Open men competition and he was followed by Ibrahim Pattiwala. The third spot was claimed by Abdul Nur Khan of Bulls Eye Club. 

Qurrat-ul-Ain and Kanwal Hasan, both of them belonging to Customs Archery Club, shared the top two positions in the Sindh Open women tourney with Sumaira of Karachi University finishing third.

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November 29, 2019

Kohli capitalizing on good work of predecessors


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Captaining the Indian cricket has never been easy. The task has continued to become increasingly tough and challenging because of the monumental significance of the sport which is followed the most passionately and so closely in a country whose population is reported to be more than 1.3 billion. 

The legendary Sunil Gavaskar has indeed correctly reminded the modern great Virat Kohli that the Indians were winning in the 1970s as well as in the 1980s but it should also not be forgotten that the frequency of Indian victories was on lower side compared to the one attained by the present side. 

The cricket historians and the statisticians from all over the world will testify that the current team, captained by Kohli, has displayed far more consistency and intensity to overcome most of the obstacles than any of the outfits fielded by the country since its Test debut in 1932. 

Kohli’s may not be the most resourceful Indian side of all time which makes its conquests even more praiseworthy. The marshalling of resources and the mindset to dominate, among other factors, has enabled them to register Test victories more regularly than before. 

Mind you Kohli is also confronted, time and again, by the factors that used to derail and sometimes even dishearten the Indian teams of the past. More than half of the 10 Test matches which the Indians have lost under him so far could also have been won. At least three Tests in his tenure were hit by rain just when victory seemed round the corner. 

‘Tiger’ Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, with his dashing personality, is thought to be the first-ever Indian captain who taught self-belief to his teammates. Ajit Wadekar, credited to have fast-tracked Gavaskar into international arena, continued the Pataudi legacy to reap instant rewards. 

Bishan Singh Bedi, a great left-arm spinner, achieved limited success as captain before giving way to Gavaskar, following defeats in a couple of Test matches in Pakistan that could have been saved. 

Gavaskar, arguably the greatest-ever opening batsman in cricket history, got off to a sensational start as a captain too. He remained unbeaten in 18 Tests, winning six of them, before tasting first defeat at Sydney. He also lost the captaincy following a dismal tour of Pakistan in 1982-83. 

Kapil Dev, the mercurial all-rounder, took over and stunned the world by taming the high-flying West Indies in a high-scoring one-dayer in their own den. A few months later the Indians dethroned the mighty islanders of the Caribbean in the 1983 World Cup. 

He continued to lead by example as India defeated England in the Test series in the summer of 1986 but on innumerable occasions India failed to finish off the rivals despite being in the driving seat. 

The era of Muhammad Azharddin as captain saw India winning more regularly on home turf in the 1990s but Sachin Tendulkar, the most gifted of all batsmen, couldn’t do justice with high expectations when handed over the responsibility of leading the side. 

Enter Ganguly and the Indians become a formidable force abroad too. Remember he had taken over the command in 2000 following an unheard of whitewash at home. How he restored the confidence in his boys, or men, to become world beaters deserves special mention. And that’s what Kohli must have been at the back of his mind while praising Ganguly after decimating Bangladesh recently. 

Obviously it’s not any disrespect meant for Gavaskar or any other former Indian skipper but Kohli seemed justified in recalling that Ganguly, as captain, was responsible for putting India on path of winning Tests overseas. 

The versatile Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whom Kohli had succeeded, also played a major part in leading India to conquests in big events but he had to endure a nightmarish streak in Tests outside Asia. Kohli has been leading more or less the same bunch of players who were around in the days of Dhoni. 

These speedsters, Ishant Sharma, Muhammad Shami and Umesh Yadav, who are dismantling the opponents at will of late, were there at the disposal of Dhoni too. The spin duo of Ravichandaran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja was also there but look at their changed roles and the subsequent results.

It’s not meant to discredit Dhoni, who remained as cool as a cucumber in the toughest of scenarios and brought about many famous victories, but the fact remains that Kohli has used the same set of bowlers with a different mindset and the rest is history.

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November 25, 2019

Ali Abbas Hasanie honoured in Karachi


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The veteran cricket administrator, Ali Abbas Hasanie, was showered with praise by comrades and contemporaries in a reception hosted in his honour by the former top functionaries of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) on November 23. 

Prof Siraj-ul-Islam Bokhari, a former President and Secretary of the KCCA, and Akram Khan, ex-Joint Secretary, KCCA, arranged the ceremony to recognize the visiting official, having moved to Canada almost five decades ago. It was attended by a large number of Test and first-class cricketers, umpires and organizers. 

It was recalled that Hasanie, one of the founding members of the National Sports Club, established in 1960, had quickly made his mark in the city cricket circles as he worked closely and enthusiastically with Haji Iftikhar, who was one of the zonal chairmen of the KCCA. 

It was disclosed that, upon relocating in Canada way back in 1970, he has remained actively involved in cricket’s organizational matters besides pursuing his career as a management consultant. 

In 2011, he was elected President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Canada (BCCC) which was earlier known as the Canadian Cricket Federation (CCF). 

“My most significant contribution has been reviving international cricket in Canada against the heaviest of odds as I was instrumental in laying the turf pitch at the stadium in Toronto which paved the way for the Indo-Pak ODI series by the name of Sahara Cup to take place there in the 1990s,” Hasanie revealed in his speech on the occasion. 

In his welcome address, Prof Siraj-ul-Islam Bokhari, whose name remained synonymous with Karachi cricket for decades, became little emotional as he expressed his delight at finding a lot of retired and forgotten personalities who had served the cause of the sport diligently in the past. 

The widely respected umpire, Mahboob Shah, who earned the honour of becoming the first Pakistani to stand in a World Cup final, in his address, regretted that the cricket authorities in the country were unwilling to arrange for the training of the umpires which didn’t allow them to break into the elite ICC panel. 

Brig (Retd) Salahuddin, who is still remembered for having uprooted the stumps of the legendary opener Hanif Muhammad in a first-class match, in his speech, expressed the hope that the cricket organizers of today will learn and derive inspiration from their illustrious predecessors in order to carry forward their mission. 

The vote of thanks was presented by Jamil Ahmed while Ghulam Muhammad conducted the ceremony. Prominent among those present on the occasion were former Test cricketers Aftab Baloch, Jalaluddin and Danish Kaneria besides international umpires Saleem Badr and Masroor Ali.

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Dreamworld Resort to host World Wrestling Champions on Dec 21


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The buzz and excitement in the rings will return to Karachi with a bang with more than 15 foreign participants expected to set alight the one-day event titled as the World Wrestling Champions at the picturesque Dreamworld Resort on December 21. 

“We had witnessed the participation of four foreign international wrestlers at the first-ever competition of its kind to be held in Pakistan earlier this year but now we have received confirmation from as many as 17 combatants from abroad for the upcoming event which will be much bigger than the previous one,” Nouman Suleman, President, Pro Wrestling Federation of Pakistan (PWFP), announced in the media launch organized at the Dreamworld Resort on November 24. 

“We are excited to be bringing such a historic wrestling event to Pakistan. It is important for us to organize something new and exciting for the fans of this sport. We hope that through organizing such events, Pakistan gains recognition as an important destination for world wrestling and other mega sporting events,” he remarked. 

Hailed as the biggest event in Pakistan’s Pro Wrestling history yet, it will witness the participation of eminent wrestlers from USA, UK, UAE, Mexico, Greece and Singapore who will be coming over to Karachi to lock horns with the top challengers of the country. 

The international wrestlers, which include former and current champions from WWE, TNA, AEW, Lucha Underground and Indie circuits, are expected to be engaged in tough and exciting contests with the local talent. 

“We are more than glad to be playing our role in the promotion of soft image of our country as we reckon that the success of the our international wrestling events will be particularly helpful in sending positive vibes from Pakistan which will encourage the top athletes of the world to continue visiting our country without any apprehensions or reservations,” Faraz-ul-Huda, Head of Marketing, Dreamworld Resort, observed. 

“As part of our policy of promoting the neglected sports, we had joined hands with the PWFP to hold Rumble in Pakistan earlier this year which was hailed as a landmark event. In order to promote wrestling further, we are now helping them organize another event next month which is expected to be even more thrilling spectacle than the previous one,” he hoped. 

Abdul Jabbar Rathod, Executive Director, Dreamworld Resort, in his brief remarks, reckoned that the upcoming World Wrestling Champions will not only turn out to be an exciting day for wrestling fans but it will also help further establish Pakistan’s position in the world of wrestling. 

“We are happy to be partnering with Dreamworld Resort for this historic event. It is important to introduce new sporting avenues to the youth of our country, especially a sport such as wrestling, which, until recent years, has only ever been seen on television or online.” Zofeen Ihsan, Chief Operating Officer, Xenith Public Relations, noted. 

The media launch was also attended by some of the leading wrestlers, having performed impressively in the Rumble in Pakistan on April 28, who vowed to upstage the foreign participants in the World Wrestling Champions.

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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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