June 20, 2018

Abdul Majid Khan: The gentleman journalist is no more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The sports journalist fraternity of Pakistan has lost its oldest surviving member with the passing away of Abdul Majid Khan. He died in his home city of Karachi on June 14. He was 90.

Although he had been writing and reporting rather sparingly in the last few years of his life, he often visited the Karachi Press Club (KPC), an institution which was very dear to his heart. 

But he had written extensively in a professional career spanning more than half a century. He was one of the most well-read journalists of the country as he worked for Dawn, the iconic English newspaper, for a number of decades. 

Although he covered every conceivable sport but tennis and squash remained his forte. He knew inside out about these two games in particular and his depth of knowledge was incredible. 

Majid Bhai and Khan Sahib, to his colleagues and friends, he epitomized ethics and professionalism. 

Like any other human being on the planet he also had a circle of friends but he was one man who was thought to have never compromised while discharging duties.

Interestingly a few of his own colleagues, with whom he shared the newsroom, had the firebrand reputation but he was as cool as cucumber. 

He was hardly ever noticed arguing or fighting with anyone. Considering the fact that Dawn remained the number one English daily to be published from Pakistan in almost the entire length of his service, he was never heard to have misused his authority or anything remotely close to it which is quite remarkable if not unbelievable in a society where he lived and worked. 

His cool temperament was also reflected in his writings. He reported the most controversial of incidents in an objective manner without adding fuel to fire or taking sides. 

Another outstanding quality which he possessed was his willingness to guide and even mentor newcomers in the profession without seeking any reward. 

He was truly a selfless man who believed in honesty at all times. He was polite and humble to juniors as well as to those contemporaries of his who belonged to different school of thought. 

He will surely be remembered and missed. His gentlemanly acts in a profession as volatile as journalism will never be forgotten. Hopefully the flame he has lit will be taken care of in the years to come.

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June 13, 2018

Omar Cricket Club edge out Qasmi Gymkhana to regain KG title


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Omar Cricket Club regained the title by edging out Qasmi Gymkhana by three runs in a thrilling final of the 33rd Karachi Gymkhana Ramazan Festival Twenty20 Cricket Tournament 2018 for the Omar Associates Trophy at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground on June 13.

It was in the fitness of things that the title clash turned out to be the most exciting of all 31 matches of the tournament. With four runs needed on the last ball it was anybody’s game until the very end. 

Omar CC, fielding with 10 men only, controlled its nerves better to be the deserved winners of the trophy. 

The champions, Omar CC, felt hard done, however, at the controversial decision of the umpires, Riazuddin and Muhammad Shakil, for not having allowed them a substitute fielder in place of Umar Akmal and they had to field with 10 men for the better part of their opponents’ innings.

Put into bat, Omar CC had to be content with a total of 179 for nine in the allotted 20 overs. Fine knocks from opener Ahsan Ali (44 off 25 balls), Rameez Raja (44 off 21 balls) and Danish Aziz (45 off 35 balls) allowed them to reach 110 at the halfway stage but they were unable to make the most of it. 

Qasmi Gymkhana fought back through the spin duo of Hasan Sardar (3-18) and Wasim Ali (2-41) with medium-pacer Kamran Hussain (2-26) also bowling well to limit the damage.

Set to score 180 in 20 overs, Qasmi Gymkhana got off to a sluggish start, scoring 70 in the first 10 overs and losing four wickets. But breezy knocks from Kamran Hussain (41 off 21 balls) and Faizan Ahmed (25 off 13 balls) opened up the game ensuring a tight finish. 

Left-arm spinners Muhammad Asghar (3-18), named Man of the Match, and Irfan Gohar (3-37) played the lead role in restricting Qasmi Gymkhana to 176 for eight off 20 overs. 

Nadeem Omar, President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), who was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony, presented the winners’ trophy to the Omar CC skipper, Saad Nasim, alongwith a purse of Rupees eight lacs while a cheque of Rupees four lacs was collected with the runners-up trophy by the Qasmi Gymkhana captain, Abid Qasmi.

Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, former Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), and Mazhar Iqbal Puri, President, Karachi Gymkhana, were also present in the ceremony. 

Usman Khan of Omar CC was declared Man of the Tournament while Bilal Irshad (Qasmi Gymkhana), Faraz Ahmed Khan (Omar CC), Rameez Raja (Omar CC) and Hasan Mustafa (Qasmi Gykhahana) were adjudged as best batsman, bowler, fielder and wicketkeeper respectively. 

The total prize money of the tournament, sponsored by Omar Associates (Pvt) Ltd for the sixth year running with Agha Steel Industries, Acme Technologies and Zaraiz Atelier being the co-sponsors, was well over Rs 16 lacs which included individual awards of Rs 313,000.

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June 6, 2018

Omar Associates regain Naya Nazimabad trophy


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Omar Associates regained the trophy by toppling National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) by 29 runs in the final of the 5th Naya Nazimabad Ramazan Cup Twenty20 Cricket Tournament 2018 under floodlights, at the Hussain Lawai Stadium in Karachi on June 4.

Opener Usman Khan smashed a breezy 71 and all-rounder Muhammad Nawaz followed up his rapid 29 with a three-wicket haul to engineer yet another title victory for Omar Associates, who had also clinched the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2014. 

The ground was already packed to capacity when Omar Associates chose to bat first after winning the toss. 

They entertained the crowd with sizzling strokes and piled up a huge total of 201 for seven in the allotted 20 overs. 

Openers Umar Akmal and Usman Khan gave their team a flying start by blasting 64 in the six overs of power play. Umar slammed two sixes and five boundaries in his 46 off 28 balls. 

The momentum was maintained despite losing three quick wickets in space of six balls for just one run. Bilal Asif took two wickets on successive balls that of Umar and Sami-ur-Rahman for golden duck while Saad Nasim was dislodged by Sohail Tanvir also for a duck which had reduced Omar Associates to 67 for three. 

Usman, however, batted brilliantly under pressure and hoisted four sixes besides belting half a dozen boundaries in his 71 off 36 balls to lift his team’s total. In the end Nawaz plundered 26 off 12 balls with three massive sixes and one four to set a difficult task for their opponents. 

NBP, in reply, was restricted to 172 for eight in their 20 overs despite the heroics of opener Ahsan Ali who topscored with 21-ball 42 laced with three sixes and four fours. Raza Dar banged three sixes in his 37 and Bilal Asif hoisted three sixes in his 11-ball cameo of 22. 

Left-arm spinner Muhammad Nawaz caused the main trouble for the bankers by grabbing three wickets for 26 runs while medium-pacer Anwar Ali snapped up two wickets for 24 runs. 

The Governor of Sindh, Muhammad Zubair, was the chief guest in the ceremony which was presided over by the former Pakistan captain, Shahid Afridi. Also present on the occasion were Nadeem Omar, President-Elect, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), and Arif Habib, Chairman, Arif Habib. 

The chief guest presented a glittering trophy alongwith a cash award of Rupees 12 lacs to the winning captain, Saad Nasim, while the runner-up trophy was collected by the NBP skipper, Bilal Asif, with a purse of Rupees six lacs. 

The Rupees 40,000 Man of the Match award for the final was shared between Usman Khan and Muhammad Nawaz of Omar Associates. 

Bilal Asif was declared the player of the tournament for his all-round excellence while Sahibzada Farhan and Zafar Gohar, both of them from Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), were adjudged best batsman and the bowler of the tournament respectively. The trio received Rs 25, 000 each.

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June 5, 2018

Nikhil Dutta tops list of locals in GlobalT20 Canada draft


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

As many as 20 Canadian players among strong contingent from associate member nations were drafted by cricket luminaries for inaugural Global T20 Canada scheduled to be staged in Toronto from June 28 to July 15.

The Toronto off-spinner Nikhil Dutta’s selection marked a landmark moment for the sport of cricket in Canada. Dutta, a member of Canada’s men’s national team, was selected in the seventh round for a $25,000 salary, confirming the 23-year old’s reputation as Canada’s top player. 

He leads a group of 21 Canadian players drafted by the league’s five Canadian franchise teams, Toronto Nationals, Vancouver Knights, Edmonton Royals, Montreal Tigers and Winnipeg Hawks. 

“I feel honoured to be drafted in Global T20 Canada and excited to be playing with all the coveted players from international cricket.This tournament will provide great exposure for Canadian cricket and give opportunities for up and coming players to play with the big players, and gain valuable experience,” Dutta remarked on the occasion. 

The 21 Canadians, along with 11 other players from Associate Member nations, give Associate Member nations one-third of the total player pool (32 of 96), a higher proportion than the world’s other top professional Twenty20 leagues.

The United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nepal, Bermuda and Hong Kong account for the 11 players, with notable selections including Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal, 6th round), Babar Hayat (UAE, 7th round) and Ali Khan (USA., 9th round). 

The proportion signifies Global T20 Canada’s focus on cricket development as players from Associate Member nations will have an opportunity to play at the highest level alongside the sport’s top stars and minds. 

Each team was required to have four Canadians on its roster and select two players from Associate Member nations. 

“This is an exciting time for Canadian cricket, and cricket development around the world with many players participating from Associate Member nations. Normally players from these countries don’t get a chance to play at this level with the types of marquee players we have, so the game is going global, and this is where Global T20 Canada stands out,” Tournament Director, Jason Harper, observed. 

Dutta, who was born in Kuwait, has a solid international Twenty20 resume with stints in Pakistan Premier League for Barisal Bulls and St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Caribbean Premier League. He joins West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy, a two-time ICC World T20 champion, who will helm the Toronto Nationals.

Sammy, along with international stars Chris Gayle (Vancouver Knights/West Indies), Lasith Malinga (Montreal Tigers/Sri Lanka), Shahid Afridi (Edmonton Royals/Pakistan) and Dwayne Bravo (Winnipeg Hawks/West Indies) will lead the five franchises.

Tournament organizer Mercuri Canada Ltd. also invited international marquee players David Miller (Winnipeg Hawks/South Africa), Chris Lynn (Edmonton Royals/Australia), Sunil Narine (Montreal Tigers/West Indies) and Andre Russell (Vancouver Knights/West Indies). Australian Steve Smith, making his return to pro cricket since his suspension by Cricket Australia, will play for Toronto.

Overall, 80 players were chosen over 16 rounds by the five Canadian franchise teams. They hail from 19 different countries and were selected from a pool of over 1,500 cricketers that registered from 40-plus countries around the world.

Five of cricket’s luminaries, Phil Simmons (Toronto Nationals), Donovan Miller (Vancouver Knights), Mohammad Akram (Edmonton Royals), Tom Moody (Montreal Tigers) and Waqar Younis, (Winnipeg Hawks), will be coaching the teams.

Each team selected 16 players with four roster spots designated for Canadians, keeping with Global T20 Canada’s mandate to advance the development of cricket in Canada.

“Global T20 is an unprecedented opportunity for Canada’s best players to develop under the mentorship of some of the sport’s great minds. Canadian cricket and sports fans will get an opportunity to see our cricketers play alongside the world’s best, and that should have a significant impact on the performance of Canada’s men’s national team in future international competitions,” Ranjit Saini, President, Cricket Canada, declared.

The tournament’s sixth squad, Cricket West Indies Representative Team, will exclusively consist of Caribbean players selected by Cricket West Indies, the region’s governing body of cricket.

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Waqar, Moody, Simmons join GlobalT20 Canada as coaches


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Three of the vastly experienced cricket coaches, Waqar Younis of Pakistan, Tom Moody of Australia and Phil Simmons of the West Indies, have joined the inaugural Global T20 Canada set to take place in Toronto from June 28 to July 15. 

They are among the biggest names of international cricket, having proven track record in coaching. Their presence to guide the Canadian franchise teams will certainly add value to the landmark tournament. 

According to the details made available by the organizers, Waqar, a legendary fast bowler and a former Pakistan captain, who also coached the national team, will now be coaching Winnipeg Eagles while Moody, an enterprising Australian all-rounder, and ex-coach of Sri Lanka, will be associated with Montreal Tigers.

The former West Indian all-round Simmons, who was the coach when his national team won the ICC World Twenty20 2016 in India, will be coaching Toronto Nationals. Mohammad Akram, another former Pakistan fast bowler and coach of Pakistan Super League franchise, Peshawar Zalmi, will now also be coaching Edmonton Royals while Donovan Miller, a renowned Jamaican coach, will be on duty for Vancouver Knights. 

Aside from two of the 10 marquee players announced on May 24, each coach will select 14 additional players for their team from a vast talent pool. In just two weeks, over 1,500 players from Canada and around the world had registered for selection.

“I look forward to this experience. I have fond memories of playing in Toronto in the 1990s. I still remember the kind of excitement it created at that time and this time it should be no different. Global T20 has announced some magnificent names as marquee players," Waqar was quoted as saying recently. 

"I am looking forward to the draft and making a well-balanced side for my franchise, Winnipeg Eagles,” he added.

“This is truly a wonderful opportunity for the game in Canada and North America. I am delighted to be involved as one of the head coaches of the league. I will do everything possible in my role to support the success of this tournament,” Moody remarked.
“Competition like this in the North America region is very much the need of the hour to strengthen the development of the game in an associate country like Canada. I am looking forward to sharing my coaching experience with Toronto Nationals and would like to congratulate Cricket Canada and Global T20 Canada for this initiative,” Simmons observed. 

Besides the celebrated coaches, the marquee players of the tournament would be Chris Gayle (West Indies), Steve Smith (Australia), Andre Russell (West Indies), Sunil Narine (West Indies), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Chris Lynn (Australia), Darren Sammy (West Indies), David Miller (South Africa), Lasinth Malinga (Sri Lanka) and Dwayne Bravo (West Indies).

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May 25, 2018

IPL thrills but kills; Kohli’s injury jeopardizes India’s chances of overseas success


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Only time and honest assessment will tell if the Indian Premier League (IPL), launched with great fanfare by Lalit Modi and company in 2008, has done more good to the Indian cricket in particular and the game of cricket in general or has it inflicted more harm.

11 seasons into the IPL and the damage caused has been phenomenal. 

It has certainly boosted the bank balance of the already cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but this has come at a huge cost. 

India’s performances in the international matches, most notably in Tests, have suffered immensely despite the fact that they are currently ranked number one team in the ICC ratings for the longer version of the game. 

They were already the top ranked Test side when the IPL thing occurred in 2008. They had already won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 which resulted in the establishment of the IPL. They were already among the top performing ODI sides, packed with megastars around that time, having won the triangular series in Australia in 2007-08.

Isn’t it ironical to note that since the advent of the IPL, India have not won a single edition of World T20! India’s title triumph in the 2011 World Cup at home was made possible by the players who already were stars in their own right before the IPL had come into being.

So what good has the IPL done in improving India’s performance in international matches across all formats? 

Hasn’t the BCCI done a disservice to have bound all its cricketers for a couple of months to play for cash at the expense of national interest? 

The latest casualty is none other than the indomitable Virat Kohli. 

Although the BCCI had tried to downplay it, the fact of the matter is that the Indian got injured while playing the ongoing edition of the IPL and he has become a doubtful starter for the all-important tour of England starting next month. 

While all his foes and their cronies have struggled to find a way to dislodge Kohli, over the years, the BCCI has done the trick by getting him on verge of being sidelined. 

If Kohli, the Indian captain, misses any part of the upcoming England tour it will be another slap on the face of the BCCI officials who must be tried for having committed a serious offence. 

Since the Supreme Court appointed committee has been looking after Indian cricket of late it has become their responsibility to try those who have played foul and compromised on national interest.

The damage has already been done. Kohli’s county stint, which was aimed at giving him a better chance to acclimatize to the English conditions prior to the challenging tour, has been cancelled with a neck injury suffered during his penultimate IPL on May 17. 

It has been announced officially that Kohli will not be training for the next three weeks with a BCCI press release saying he will only resume on June 15 at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. 

He will then undergo a fitness test before he flies out for the tour of Ireland and England in late June. India’s chances of succeeding in England will be seriously jeopardized in the prevailing conditions. 

Even if he makes it to the team, he will be out of match practice for long and expecting him to regain the Midas touch right away will be a bit too much.

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May 16, 2018

Asghar Valika urges for enhancing snooker rewards


By Ehsan Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The pioneer and key promoter of snooker in Pakistan, Ali Asghar Valika, has called for enhancing the prize money in the national circuit and take it to millions so that the country could sustain its supremacy in the international arena.

“The manner in which the game has progressed and the consistency with which the Pakistani cueists have performed at the world and the Asian level the prize money of the national events merits considerable enhancement to keep them motivated,” Asghar Valika, a former President of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS), observed in an interview at the Karachi Club on May 15. 

“There is no major increase in the incentives and prize money for almost a decade now. We must offer at least Rupees one million as prize money in every event to make the circuit more competitive and thus raise the standard of the game,” he suggested. 

Having headed the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) for a couple of decades from 1988 to 2008, he didn’t mince words in stating the enhancement of prize money of national tournaments was the need of the hour. 

“Our brilliant cueists have achieved excellence in the game with a couple of world individual titles besides two team titles. They are a force to be reckoned with at the Asian level,” Asghar Valika, under whose leadership took the game to new heights in Pakistan, remarked. 

The legendary Muhammad Yousuf had made the major breakthrough by winning the IBSF World Championship in South Africa in 1994 before clinching the Asian title at Karachi in 1998.

Asghar Valika was of the opinion that the PBSA should curtail their administrative expenses and only one official should accompany the team and also manage the team and being the delegate. 

He also advised the PBSA to make money through televised matches. He dispelled the impressions of disharmony in PBSA Executive Committee after Munawwar Hussain Shaikh took over from Alamgir Anwar Shaikh after his two terms as the President. 

Asghar Valika said that Pakistan desperately needed a permanent coach who should train, groom and tactically prepare our cueists for international level. 

“Our cueists are doing well at the international level and international coach can further harness their game and mentally toughen them,” he added. 

Responding to a question, he said he doesn’t need recognition from anyone and feels proud and satisfied with whatever he contributed for the game of snooker in Pakistan. 

“I don’t need any reward or award because achievement of players during my era and now make me happy and satisfied that they brought honor and glory to the country,” Asghar Valika said. 

He made it clear that he was elected as the Life Chairman of PBSA by General Body and not by the executive committee. 

Asghar Valika showed his disappointment over the fact that no national snooker activity was taking place at Karachi Club’s Amir Bakhsh Billiards Hall which used to be the hub of Pakistan Snooker in the past. 

“Snooker activity at Karachi Club was stopped due to misunderstanding and efforts are afoot for it revival there. The Latif Masters should also be revived as it was a major event held in memory of Pakistan’s greatest billiards player, who finished runners-up in world championship in India,” he continued. 

He recalled that PBSA struggled in early 1980s but sponsorship and support of Red & White and its marketing head, Shahid Ahmad Khan, changed the destiny of Pakistan snooker. 

Asghar Valika, who remained the boss of Asian body for six years, said that holding of Asian Snooker in Karachi in 1991 and later staging of IBSF World Snooker Championship made Muhammad Yousuf, Yasin Merchant, Pradit Chuchat (Thailand) household names after matches were nationally live televised. 

He wanted the PSBA to must open up and induct peoples from other provinces in their fold and also hold a couple of event outside Karachi. 

“Snooker should not be confined to Karachi and events should be held in other provincial capitals as well on rotation basis,” he concluded

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May 10, 2018

President-elect Nadeem Omar set to take KCCA to higher level


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The President-elect of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), Nadeem Omar, has already set the ball rolling by getting in touch with the concerned quarters for implementing his plans aimed at reviving the game in a big way.

He has been elected unopposed as the KCCA President as he enjoyed overwhelming electoral support prompting his predecessor and challenger Prof Ejaz Ahmed Farooqui to withdraw his candidature the other day. 

The notification in this regard from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is being awaited and it may be delayed until polling for the slot of the KCCA Secretary is held in a few weeks. 

Nadeem Omar, a veteran sports promoter and a cricket administrator, having founded and managed successful cricket teams like Omar Associates, Omar Cricket Club and Capricorn Discount Cards, besides Quetta Gladiators, has begun his journey of transforming the KCCA into a bigger entity than it was ever before. 

The KCCA President-elect shared some of the exciting plans he has worked out to revolutionize the KCCA. He has already started making moves towards his strategic plan, covering nearly aspect of the game. 

The development of a new structure of cricket for Karachi features prominently on his agenda as he plans to have the KCCA managed as professionally as any other modern cricket association anywhere in the world. 

“First and foremost I have set the goal of reviving the KCCA Stadium in North Nazimabad. I plan to install floodlights at the ground besides improving the condition of the stadium. This would be the home of Karachi cricket,” he declared. 

“Secondly I have already spoken to the PCB to let the KCCA gets its share of space at the National Stadium where I intend to build a library and museum of Karachi cricket apart from setting up the High Performance Centre with the KCCA Academy. There are vacant spaces within the compound of the National Stadium and the KCCA is interested in using it,” Nadeem Omar disclosed. 

He has the plans for revitalizing the club cricket, with the help of its seven zones, on a war footing. He’s equally eager to launch proper cricket tournaments for schools, colleges and universities with the collaboration of the local education departments in order to engage a larger pool of students. 

“I would be interested in exposing the youngsters to matches of longer duration from an early age so that they face no problems when graduating to first-class cricket. We will have annual tournaments of three-day matches as well as T20 events,” he added. 

His plans include the development of news complexes containing a full-fledged cricket grounds where first-class matches could be played besides reviving the historic grounds like the Karachi Parsi Institute (KPI) where the legendary Hanif Muhammad played that epic knock of 499. 

Nadeem Omar emphasized on quickly developing and uploading a state-of-the-art website of the KCCA, to be updated on a daily basis, which would have details about coaches, umpires, scorers, clubs, departments, grounds, rules, women’s tournaments besides other features of general interest.

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