August 24, 2016

SCA Independence Day Chess Championship aims to bolster mind sport

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prizes worth millions of Rupees will be distributed among the participants and the spectators during the Independence Day Chess Championship 2016, being organized by the Sindh Chess Association (SCA) at the Customs Services Club in Federal-B-Area, Karachi, over the weekend.

The details of the two-day event were unveiled by Ayaz Memon Motiwala, President SCA, and Chairman, Karachi Tajir Alliance Association (KTAA), while the technical aspects were shared by Sadia Qureshi, Secretary General, SCA, in a media briefing here at the Karachi Press Club on August 23. 

“The objective of holding the Independence Day Chess Championship, having participation from all over the country, with great fanfare on August 26 and 27 is to attract the youth in particular towards this mind sport. The school kids besides the college and university students are being encouraged to take part in it through various promotions. The fabulous prizes are going to serve as incentives,” Ayaz Motiwala, having been elected the SCA President recently, remarked. 

“Indeed it’s a pity that such a wonderful game like chess has suffered in the past due to politicking and other reasons. We cannot change the past but surely we can contribute our bit in turning it around for the future. We desire to engage the youth in a big way and the positive results would be visible sooner than later,” he declared. 

“Having accepted the leadership of the SCA as a challenge, a comprehensive youth development programmed is being worked out and it will soon be launched all over the province, which is our domain. The research has shown the students are particularly for playing chess and we wish to facilitate them in every possible manner, be it online or otherwise,” Ayaz Motiwala, eager to set the ball rolling instead of waiting for things to happen, stated. 

He also gave details of the major prizes to be presented during the upcoming two-day event. Besides the cash prizes, there will be gold ear tops, crystal stone jewellary, gift hampers, dress suits, branded eye lenses and imported sun glasses to be won. As many as 100 exclusive memberships of the Franklinz Consumer Club will also be offered to the winners by lucky draws. 

Sadia Qureshi, Secretary SCA, disclosed that competitions will be held in the youth as well as the open categories and their outstanding performers will be getting their share in the kitty of Rs 100,000. 

She revealed that more than 50 entries for each of the two categories had already been received and greater number of entries was being anticipated by the deadline of August 24. 

The SCA Secretary was critical of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA) for meddling into the provincial chess affairs although it was not an Olympic sport. 

Sadia Qureshi regretted that the country was unlikely to be represented in the upcoming Chess Olympiad due to the non-presence of an elected set-up of the Chess Federation of Pakistan (CFP). 

“We would urge the chess organizers to work for the promotion of the game rather than spending time in counter-productive activities. Otherwise Pakistan may not produce even International Masters, let alone Grand Masters, in future,” she concluded.

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August 22, 2016

Asif retains NBP snooker trophy

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Seventh seed Mohammad Asif successfully defended his title by outsmarting fourth seeded Mohammad Bilal in the final of the eighth edition of NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2016 at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi on August 22.

The 34-year-old Asif, a former world champion hailing from Faisalabad, overpowered Bilal, the 30-year-old reigning national champion from Mandi Bahauddin, 8-3 in the all-Punjab best of 15-frame final with the scores of 64-56, 5-88, 44-69, 72-34, 62-49, 60-18, 130-1, 69-36, 83-5, 29-72, 107-32. 

The enigmatic Asif succeeded in extending his winning record against the mercurial Bilal, who had looked impeccable in the earlier matches including the semifinals the other day. 

Asif opened his account by pocketing the closely fought first frame. Bilal responded strongly by taking the next couple of frames, firing a break of 61 in the third frame. It was Asif all the way after that as he won the next five frames on a trot to shoot into 7-2 lead. It included a break of 62 in the fifth frame and one of 130 in the seventh frame. 

Fighting a lost cause, Bilal secured the 10th frame rather handsomely but it could not change the course of the proceedings as Asif wrapped up the issue in the 11th frame. 

Cash awards of Rs 150,000 were disbursed in the prize distribution ceremony, held soon after the conclusion of the final, in which Mudassir H Khan, SEVP & Group Chief, Commercial, Retail Banking Group, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), was the chief guest.
He presented a cash award of Rs 60,000, alongwith the winner trophy, to Asif while Bilal received a purse of Rs 35,000 with the runner-up trophy. 

The losing semifinalists, Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir and Mohammad Sajjad, had to be content with Rs 15,000 each while the losing quarter-finalists, Babar Masih, Shahram Changezi, Sharjeel Mahmood and Mohammad Ijaz, were compensated with Rs 5,000 each. 

Sharjeel of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, also claimed the cash award of Rs 5,000 for the highest break of the championship (140) which he had chalked up during the course of his 4-1 victory over the eventual champion, Asif, in the preliminary rounds. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), in his welcome speech, acknowledged the contribution of all the stake-holders in making the eight-day event another success story. 

Ovais Asad Khan, heading the Strategic Marketing and CSR divisions of NBP, appreciated the improvement in the standard of snooker in Pakistan over the years and hoped that the cueists will bring more glories for the country in future. 

Talking briefly to the media, after retaining the NBP trophy, Asif admitted that he has had to endure additional pressure because of the high expectations whenever he has gone to the table after the World Championship triumph in 2012. 

“Obviously it’s not always possible to meet the expectations. After all the opponents of mine also come to the table for glories and they give their shot to it. I try my level best to keep delivering,” he remarked. 

“Yes I do enjoy a kind of psychological advantage over Bilal, having beaten him a few times. That helped today as well. He is an outstanding cueist in his own right but somehow he’s unable to do it when playing against me,” Asif reckoned. 

The former world champion was full of praise, however, for Zulfiqar and Sharjeel for having fared superbly against him. 

Bilal, a man of few words, conceded that the rub of the green didn’t go his way in the final unlike in the semifinal against Sajjad the other day. 

“Hard work holds the key to success. Today was not my day but I will continue working hard to come up with better results in future,” he added. 

A total of 27 top cueists of the country had entered the championship whose preliminary round matches witnessed innumerable upsets which continued in the knockout phase too.

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August 17, 2016

SSUET organize Inter-University Cricket Tournament

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By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Inter-University Jashn-e-Azadi Cricket Tournament was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Prof. Dr Jawaid H Rizvi, at the Naya Nazimabad Lawai Stadium in Karachi on August 17. Hosts SSUET and the Pakistan Marine Academy were set to lock horns in the opening fixture. 

Earlier in a media briefing, the SSUET Director Sports, Mubashir Mukhtar, observed that the T20 tournament will provide a boost to sports in educational institutions. 

He pointed out that SSUET had celebrated the Independence Day with an unprecedented zeal and fervor and this tournament was being organized in the same context as part of the independence celebrations. 

Mubbashir Mukhtar informed that Karachi’s best universities were participating in this tournament, having been divided into two groups. 

He stated that there will be two matches daily, to be played in accordance with the laws of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), will be supervised by qualified umpires,  adding that the semifinals will be held on September 2 while the final will be played on September 3. 

The SSUET official  thanked the management of Naya Nnazimabad for providing ground and facilities for the tournament. 

The Director Sports of Naya Nazimabad, Mohammed Iqbal, said that cricket tournaments were being held at their ground for the last four years and the facilities had been appreciated at the national level. 

He informed that soon hockey and football grounds will also be developed in near future and they will always be made available for the sports activities of educational institutions. The CEO of Naya Nazimabad, Samad Habib, and the Financial Controller, Imran Haq, were also present on the occasion

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August 14, 2016

‘Little Master’ Hanif Mohammad to live in hearts of cricket fraternity

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The legendary Pakistani batsman and former captain, Hanif Mohammad, who was famed for emerging triumphant against the heaviest of odds, having played the longest innings in Test cricket, performed a miraculous recovery before succumbing one last time in his life on August 11. 

He lived to the reputation of going down fighting. Having withstood the fury of the most dangerous fast bowlers of the world his last battle was against the deadly disease of cancer. He came perilously close to defeating it. 

Miraculously was revived back to life after being declared clinically dead for six minutes at the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi. But he expired later in the day at the age of 81. 

Hailed as the original 'Little Master', Hanif was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013. He had recovered after the surgery and treatment in London three years ago but his condition deteriorated a few weeks ago and had been having treatment for respiratory complications which proved fatal. 

Hanif's son, Shoaib Mohammad had first announced from the hospital on various television channels that his father had died after losing a protracted battle with various ailments due to which doctors had put the former legend on a ventilator. But only a few minutes later it was announced that Hanif had not passed away and was alive. 

"His heartbeat had stopped for six minutes but the doctors managed to revive his heartbeat back. God has given him a second chance and I just feel this is due to the prayers of his millions of fans and supporters," Shoaib was quoted as saying. 

"Hanif Mohammad is alive and he is being provided the best possible treatment after he was admitted to hospital for complicated respiratory problems two weeks back, He is now on a ventilator and in intensive care unit getting treatment for complications due to his lung cancer," the hospital spokesman followed up much to the relief of the cricket community which was heartbroken earlier. 

The joy of getting a new lease of life from the jaws of death was shortlived, however, as the greatest-ever opening batsman of the country lost the battle against cancer later in the day. 

Hanif, one of the original inductees into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, was only one of the three surviving members of Pakistan’s first-ever Test team that played against India in 1952-53. With his demise, Waqar Hasan and Imtiaz Ahmed now remain the only two survivors now. 

Born on December 21, 1934 in Junagadh in the Indian state of Gujarat, Hanif and his four brothers, Raees, Wazir, Mushtaq and Sadiq, formed one of the most famous cricket dynasties of all time. Four of the five brothers played Tests while Raees, a 12th man once, was the only one to miss out. 

At least one of the Mohammad brothers played in Pakistan's first 101 Tests. Hanif's son Shoaib played 45 Tests while his grandson Shehzar 30 first-class matches. 

Three of his brothers, Raees, Mushtaq and Sadiq, attended the funeral while the fourth one, Wazir, who’s reportedly ill, was unable to reach from London. 

In a distinguished international career spanning 17 seasons, he amassed 3915 runs at an average of 43.98 with the help of 12 centuries in 55 Test matches which was a Pakistan record at that time for both runs as well as centuries. His highest score was that monumental 337 which allowed Pakistan to save the Barbados Test in 1958 after following on. 

He had occupied the crease for no less than 970 minutes which still remains the longest Test innings are more than 58 years. 

The following season he surpassed Don Bradman's record for the highest individual first-class innings by making 499 before being run out attempting his 500th run. The record stood for more than 35 years before being broken by Brian Lara in 1994.

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August 10, 2016

8th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship from August 15

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The top 24 cueists of the country, along with a couple of most promising juniors, will be taking part in the eighth edition of NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2016 to be played at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi from August 15 to 22.

The details of the eight-day event were unveiled by Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) and Ovais Asad Khan, Executive Vice President, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), in a media briefing at the Karachi Gymkhana on August 10. 

The participating 26 cueists have been divided in four groups for the preliminary rounds which will be spread over five days. The winners and the runners-up of each group will qualify for the knockout rounds, starting with quarter-finals. 

The league matches will be best of seven-frame contests while the quarter-finals will be of best of nine frames. The semifinals will be best of 11-frame duels with the final to be a best of 15-frame affair. 

Both the semifinals as well as the final will be telecast live on Geo Super, the premier sports television channel of the country. 

The championship will be offering prize money of Rs 150,000 with the winner to take home Rs 60,000 and the runner-up to receive Rs 35,000. The losing semifinals will be getting Rs 15,000 each while the losing quarter-finalists will be compensated with Rs 5,000 each. The highest break also carries a purse of Rs 5,000. 

Speaking on the occasion, Alamgir Shaikh acknowledged the support of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the NBP in the development of snooker while also making a mention of other sponsors.

“The institutional support of PSB and NBP in particular has helped enormously in boosting cue sports over the last eight years. The decision of NBP to employ the cueists in its folds gave us a sort of lifeline,” the PBSA President noted. 

“Geo Super, by televising the semifinals and the finals of literally every national ranking tournament over the years, has played a massive role in popularizing snooker all over the country,” he added. 

Ovais Asad Khan, heading the Strategic Marketing and CSR divisions of NBP, pledged to continue supporting the cause of sports in general and snooker in particular. 

“We are carrying forward the mission of our predecessors of producing champions. Besides sponsoring national competitions, we have had the policy of grooming the young talent in the field of sports who have gone on to serve the cause of the institution as well as the country with distinction. In the near future, we plan to engage a couple of emerging cueists to reinforce our snooker squad,” he announced. 

To a question of creating more facilities for snooker at the NBP Sports Complex, he informed that a multipurpose stadium for indoor games was being built which will facilitate greater space for cue sports activities. 

Later he presented a cheque of Rupees one million to the PBSA President, being the sponsorship fee of the 8th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2016.

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August 9, 2016

PHF to lay astro-turf at Sir Syed University

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By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), as a part of its policy to facilitate the youngsters, has decided to lay astro-turf at here the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET). 

This was announced by Olympian Naved Alam, Director, Development & Domestic, PHF, during the seminar entitled ‘State of Sports in Pakistan’ organized by the Sports Journalists Association Sindh (SJAS) with the collaboration of the SSUET, held at the university campus on August 9. 

“Indeed it’s a tragedy that Pakistan’s hockey team is not playing in the ongoing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Without blaming those responsible for the catastrophe we have decided to get on with it. We have the capacity to regain the lost glories in hockey. India had also not qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games but their team is playing now. There seems no reason why, with so much talents, we could not bounce back at the international level,” the PHF official remarked. 

The SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar, who presided over the seminar, urged all the stakeholders to work jointly for the cause of promoting sports having brought laurels for the country in the past. 

“It’s time to join hands and rise to the occasion. The country is fortunate to be blessed with enormous talent in sports. It’s the responsibility of all those institutions and departments to work in cohesion to build a kind of infrastructure which is sports friendly,” he reckoned. 

“As part of our contribution to this cause, we are pleased to revive scholarships for our students who excel in sports and are able to earn colours at provincial or national level. We are also in the process of reinforcing our sports department and we would soon be engaging professional coaches to train our students in various games,” the SSUET Chancellor declared. 

Earlier in his opening remarks, the SSUET Registrar, Cdre (retd) Syed Sarfraz Ali, had briefly touched upon the accomplishments of the university in the field of sports. 

Dr Junaid Ali Shah, President, Asghar Ali Shah Sports Foundationa and a former Sindh Minister, believed that the turnaround in sports was very much a possibility if efforts were made collectively in this direction. 

“Let’s try to make things happen. The situation is not conducive but we can still achieve our goals with strong leadership. We have to trust our hopes not fears. Optimism holds the key here. We need to work overtime with missionary zeal in order to accomplish our cherished goals,” he stressed. 

Amjad Aziz Malik, Secretary, International Sports Press Association (AIPS), Asia, proposed that the resourceful departments like Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) be handed over the management of one major sport each. 

“These departments have a history of supporting sports. It will make sense if one of them is entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of cricket while the other one can look after hockey or squash,” he added. 

Azeem Hafeez, a former Test fast bowler, pointed out that the lack of playing facilities was one of the major reasons in the declining standards of various sports in Pakistan. 

“In our playing days there were schools who housed playgrounds. We also had the access to the various cricket grounds which were open to the boys of all over the city. Unfortunately now the grounds have boundary walls and they charge hefty fees to let the cricketers play. Similarly schools cricket is also in doldrums,” he regretted. 

Rishad Mahmood, Editor Sports, Dawn, didn’t mince words in holding the sporting legends responsible for not giving back to sports. 

“It’s very painful to note that those sportsmen who’re able to make it a big, with the exception of just a few, have no inclination to give it back to the game which earned them name and fame. Similarly the sports organizers appear more eager for joyrides than finding ways and means to promote sports,” he lamented.

Mansoor Ali Baig, Editor Sports, Duniya, in his comprehensive speech, covered the ups and downs of the Pakistan sports over the years, recalling the golden era of 1990s when the country had four world titles at a time. 

The seminar was attended by a large number of the SSUET faculty and students besides the members of the SJAS and officials of the various sports bodies.

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August 8, 2016

Anwar-ul-Haq lauds CCA, desires coaching role for Jalaluddin at national level

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Anwar-ul-Haq, a former opening batsman, has lauded the services of the Customs Cricket Academy (CCA), having hit headlines lately by annexing the Rajiv Gandhi Under-15 Trophy Cricket Tournament in Chennai, India.

“The CCA, founded by Jalaluddin, the highest qualified coach of the country, has been doing a fabulous job over the years and the recent triumph of their Under-15 outfit in India is just another feather in their cap,” the former first-class cricketer turned analyst remarked in an interview. 

“The manner in which the CCA teenagers performed in India recently very clearly brought to light the virtues of modern coaching and training. They were able to outsmart their opponents because they possessed talent as well as the desired grooming,” Anwar-ul-Haq thought.

“It’s quite an accomplishment on part of the CCA Under-15 outfit to have overwhelmed Tamil Nadu by 47 runs at Marina Cricket Ground in Chennai. After winning and losing a game in pool stage against Chennai and Haryana respectively, CCA remained undefeated in three knockout matches. It’s never easy to perform well in the alien conditions so the boys deserved to be hailed for doing it there,” he reckoned. 

“Besides their cricketers the entire support staff and the management of the CCA deserved accolades for this victory in India. There were some brilliant individual performances alright like that of opener Saim Ayub, who clinched a couple of Man of the Match awards besides winning Man of the Tournament trophy, but it was the teamwork that led to success in challenging environment,” Anwar-ul-Haq pointed out. 

“The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should also lay greater emphasis on training and coaching in addition to running its academies. They should engage the trainers all over the country in a proactive manner to let them coach the talented youngsters to let them unfold their skills,” he suggested. 

Anwar-ul-Haq felt that Jalaluddin, a former Test fast bowler and one of his contemporaries, on account of his accomplishments as founder head coach of the CCA, should be provided an opportunity to be a part of the coaching setup of the national team or the national academies.

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August 3, 2016

Valika welcomes Pulsirivong’s induction into world snooker Hall of Fame

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Ali Asghar Vailka, having served as President of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) for a couple of decades, has warmly welcomed the induction of Thailand’s Sindhu Pulsirivong into the world snooker Hall of Fame.

“It’s a matter of great pleasure and satisfaction for all of us that Sindhu Pulsirivong, the long-serving President of the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand (BSAT), has become the first Asian to be inducted into the elite list,” he commended. 

“It’s equally heartening to note that he has also created history of sorts by becoming the first non-player recipient of the award, which had previously been strictly the domain of the top players from the United Kingdom and Ireland,” Asghar Valika added. 

Sindhu Pulsirivong, who is also President of the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association (WPBSA), was inducted into world snooker Hall of Fame, alongside former World Champion Stuart Bingham and Rex Williams in the sport’s annual awards ceremony in London. 

“He has thoroughly deserved the recognition at the highest level that has come his way now. He has been a great supporter of snooker over the years, having played pivotal role in globalization of cue sports,” Asghar Vailka, who himself headed the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) for six years, complimented.

"This is the most prestigious award in snooker and his extraordinary services have now been appropriately recognized. I firmly believe that this would encourage the snooker administrators and organizers all over the world, particularly in Asia, which augurs well for the future of cue sports,” he added. 

It’s interesting to add that the snooker careers of Asghar Vailka and Sindhu Pulsirivong have had quite a few similarities. 

Both of them were elected to lead their respective federations of cue sports in the same year (1988). 

The two illustrious contemporaries also went on to lead the ACBS besides holding key slots in the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF). 

Both of them are revered in the snooker circles globally for their monumental contributions to the sport which merit greater recognition.

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