By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Precision Marathon, having Tehsin Gheewala, Hasan Askari, Khalid Mohiuddin, Mubashir Puri, Junaid Said and Farrukh Liaquat with Tariq Rasheed Khan being the non-playing captain, started as the favourites in the final leg of the National Championship 2012 which commenced at Lahore Gymkhana on March 23.
As in the past the National Championship is also serving as the trials to select the national team with the winners of the Lahore event to earn the right to represent Pakistan in the 2nd Mind Sports Championship, scheduled to be staged at Lille, France, in August.
Precision Marathon, a blend of youth and experience, are also the defending champions, having captured the national crown under the banner of Data Steel last year. The alteration in nomenclature was prompted by the change of their sponsors. They got off to a flying start by winning the Sindh leg of the National Championship.
Allana, former national champions and one of the most experienced outfits of the country, have withdrawn from the final leg at the eleventh hour, after having qualified from Sindh.
The star-studded Allana, featuring Abdul Rahman Allana, Khurshid Hadi, Kemal Shoaib, Tahir Masood, Imran Jaka and Javed Ahmed Miran, decided not to proceed to Lahore just a few days before the start of the event.
When approached for comments, Khurshid Hadi, a former President of the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), stated that it was a consensus decision in the end not to take part in the final round due to a combination of factors.
Masud Mazhar, Honorary Treasurer of the PBF, confirmed from Lahore that the withdrawal from Allana had been received and the final leg of the National Championship will now be limited to seven teams instead of eight.
The seven participating teams will be engaged in a double round robin battle before the knockout stage starting with the semifinals. The league matches will continue for three days while the semifinals and the final to be played on the last two days.
Defending champions Precision Marathon, Chandna and Century Insurance are the teams from Sindh which will be contesting the final leg of the National Championship alongwith four upcountry teams, Pre-empters, JK IV, Sabers and Engineers.
Chandna, comprising of Shakeel Ahmed Chandna, Pervaiz Mirza, Ghulam Mohammed, Anwer Kizilbash, Navaid Anjum Zaidi and Azwer-ul-Haque, and Century Insurance, having Shaikh Abdul Muqeet, Syed Asghar Abbas, Abdul Khaliq, Ghufran Ashraf and Yawar Abbas, are the other contestants from Sindh.
Pre-emptors, containing Izzat Khalil, Air Cdre.Safdar Mahmood, Asad Iqbal, Jahangir Ahmed, Malik Ghias and Ahsan Qureshi, and JK IV, having Javed Khalid, Mirza Shauq Hussain, Saeed Akhtar and Masood Mazhar, are the two outfits to have qualified from Lahore.
Sabers, consisting of Niaz Hussain, Air Cdre Qanar Kayani, Abdul Hamid, Azra Raja and Chaudhary Ijaz Ahmed, and Engineers featuring Yasir Rahim, Mudassar Rahim, Qasim Rahim, Ali Ahmed, Mohammad Ali and Mohammad Imran, are the two qualifiers from the federal capital.