March 14, 2009

India’s typical self destruction at Auckland lifts New Zealand


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

India did exactly what was being feared. They surrendered in the fifth and final One-day International at the Eden Park, Auckland, almost in the same fashion as their predecessors used to do when least expected to be at the receiving end.

New Zealand, besides other less fancied oppositions, have been the beneficiaries whenever the Indians have opted to be in this mode and they benefited once more when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men decided to emulate their predecessors.

India’s shocking display, after having dominated the earlier four ODIs, must have broken the hearts of the large number of their supporters who had gathered at the Eden Park in anticipation of another cracking performance from them.

The Eden Park in Auckland was presenting the look of Little India as there were more Indian supporters at the ground than the local ones. They had braved the weather for quite sometime and they were delighted when the match finally got underway.

But their happiness didn’t last long. Virender Sehwag treated them with a few of his trademark shots but all others, with the sole exception of Rohit Sharma, failed to deliver against a bowling attack that was short of confidence after the hammering it was subjected to in the earlier games.

The Indians have had the habit of obliging the non-entities and this time Jesse Ryder of all people was allowed to become the bowling hero for New Zealand. It must have stunned the followers of the game generally but there was hardly any element of surprise for those who have been familiar with the Indian cricket.

There was nothing in the pitch to cause an alarm for the champion Indian batsmen. The ball was doing a bit but that is quite usual on the New Zealand pitches. The form in which the Indian batsmen were in, all they needed was to get their eyes in and resume business.

It has been a common sight in Indian cricket over the years. They have passed the impression of throwing away matches against weaker oppositions. They have done it once more.

Even Dhoni’s men who are being compared with the great West Indian team of the 1980s for possessing enormous depth in every department of the game have failed to immunize themselves from this disease. They have been doing it less frequently than what one had seen in the past but they need to do away with this practice if they have to accomplish the goal of becoming the number one team in the world.

The movers and shakers of the Indian cricket, it seems, don’t feel hurt or concerned by the shocking results. By the look of things they don’t mind their team losing a few games once in a while.

What they fail to take into the account is the fact that the Indian cricket team has the biggest fan following in the world who feel down and shaken by the heartbreaking performance of their stars.

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Former world champion Yousuf not to feature in Snooker Nationals 2009


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Mohammad Yousuf, a former world champion, will not be taking part in the NJI 34th National Snooker Championship 2009, to be held at the historic Karachi Gymkhana from March 16 to 21.

The President of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, has confirmed that Yousuf was not considered for a wild card entry because he didn’t submit any such request in writing to take part in the upcoming National Championship.

“Yousuf was not an automatic qualifier for this year’s Nationals since he had lost his place in the top 16 last year. He could have re-entered the national circuit by playing the provincial cup that he didn’t do. We would have certainly considered his request for a wild card entry if he had approached us,” the PBSA President said.

“We have awarded wild card entries in the national ranking tournaments in the past as well to the leading cueists like Saleh Mohammad, Naveen Perwani and Farhan Mirza,” he added.

Alamgir Shaikh, having taken over the leadership of the PBSA only last year, clarified that the Association did not hold any grudge against Yousuf or any other cueist. 

Having won the national snooker title on the highest number of occasions, Yousuf will be missing the National Championship only for the second time in his long career.

The only Pakistani to have won the World Championship as well as the Asian Championship, Yousuf, acclaimed as a master craftsman, had last absented in 1999 when he had been banned for the whole year by the PBSA on disciplinary grounds. 

It was the same year when Saleh Mohammad had completed a grand slam by winning all the four national ranking tournaments.

Yousuf had bounced back in style and regained the national title after the layoff. He then went on to annex World Seniors Snooker title. It remains to be seen if he will make another comeback. 

Meanwhile the winner of the NJI 34th National Snooker Championship 2009 will be collecting a handsome purse of Rs 90,000 alongwith a glittering trophy. The details about the six-day event, being sponsored by the New Jubilee Insurance (NJI) having become the major sponsors for snooker events, were unveiled in a media briefing here at the Karachi Gymkhana on March 12.

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