December 31, 2012

Bangladesh’s cricket tour to Pakistan in jeopardy once more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The fierce reaction of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was expected when their Bangladeshi counterparts jeopardized Bangladesh cricket team’s tour to Pakistan once more. 

The PCB Chairman, Chaudhary Zaka Ashraf, didn’t hide his sentiments at learning about the decision of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) on the last day of 2012, to put on hold their proposed tour of Pakistan. 

"If they don't want to come it’s their own decision and we didn't force them. They had confirmed the tour to the PCB and the ICC three times and still they backed off. Now their reputation is at stake. If they don't want to respect their bilateral relationship then we will also respond in a same manner,” the PCB Chairman reacted. 

"We will take a principled stance on the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) but one thing is sure our players might not be free as we are making our own arrangements from next year,” Zaka Ashraf added. 

He didn’t mince words in stating that Bangladesh’s tour to Pakistan was almost confirmed and he found it strange that the BCB had pulled out from their commitment. He pledged that the PCB's efforts to revive international cricket in Pakistan were on track and they will soon manage to get a better team to tour Pakistan than Bangladesh. 

Earlier in the day, the BCB chief, Nazmul Hassan, had announced in a media briefing in Dhaka that Bangladesh will only tour Pakistan if the security situation in the country improved. 

"The ICC minutes have it that we have made an unconditional commitment to tour Pakistan. But there is concern among us about the country's security situation, it has deteriorated. We don't think it will be wise to visit Pakistan at this time," he said. 

"We have sent the PCB a letter three days ago, telling them of our stance. We will again contact them when their security situation improves. And we will go in the future, because we are committed to go there," Nazmul Hassan disclosed. 

"It isn't an easy decision for us. If we say we want to go, many people in the country will be hurt. If we don't go, there will be repercussions. We know the consequences. They may not want to send their players to the Bangladesh Premier League and our Dhaka leagues. They will probably not want to help us or support us," he thought. 

It’s not the first time when the BCB has played tricks with the PCB whose officials have been more generous than usual in luring them to undertake a visit in order to revive international cricket in the past. 

The PCB remains more than anxious to host them but the reluctance of the BCB functionaries to go ahead with the tour indicates their indecision and double-mindedness due to some reasons. 

Bangladesh’s cricket team was set to visit Pakistan earlier this year but they postponed it on grounds which were not too convincing. May be they are playing tricks with the PCB just to ensure that Pakistan’s cricketers continue appearing in the BPL.

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December 23, 2012

Tendulkar quits ODIs at least


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

If statistics is the sole criterion to judge a batsman then Sachin Tendulkar has to be put on top of the tree in One-day Internationals in which he played 463 matches, aggregated 18,426 runs and compiled 49 centuries, all of them world records. 

Tendulkar’s retirement from ODIs, on the eve of the upcoming home series against arch-rivals Pakistan, has hardly come as a surprise. 

"I have decided to retire from the One Day format of the game. I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup winning Indian team. The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest. I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years," Tendulkar said in a statement just before the selectors got together on December 23 to pick the squad for the Pakistan series. 

The most interesting comment to this decision has come from Kris Srikkanth, a former chairman of the selection committee. 

"Actually I am surprised. If he is continuing with international cricket (Tests) then he should have continued with ODI also. We play almost 25 ODIs in a season. It is very important to keep playing international cricket,” Srikkanth was quoted as saying. 

His observations carry enormous weight and he has demonstrated the same kind of courage which displayed while hooking the likes of the fiery Imran Khan who looked unplayable to many of his illustrious colleagues during that series of 1982-83 in which the Indians were blown away in Pakistan.
Tendulkar had done very little of note for India in the recent past, having become a liability for the team. His repeated failures and the inability to come to terms with even the average bowlers had made it absolutely clear that his days in the international arena were numbered. He already has had an extended career. 

As Srikkanth has suggested between the lines it’s really shocking why he has chosen to carry on playing Test cricket when he has lost the capability to do justice with the two-down position. 

Virat Kohli is very much there to take up the responsibility of batting at number four and Tendulkar will only be blocking the way of the gifted young batsman, whose frequency of winning matches for India is higher than that of the great man. 

Tendulkar’s reluctance to hang his boots has not surprised those who have considered his batting selfish all along, caring very little for his team. 

He has been accused of playing for personal records rather than for the glories of the team. This is substantiated by his dismal performance in many of the crunch situations where his own contemporaries Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman rose to the occasion more often than not.

Dravid and Laxman, both Test specialists, have already quit the game although both of them looked in better form than Tendulkar during the last couple of years.

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December 12, 2012

Old wine in new bottle as Pakistan snooker body avoids going to polls


By Syed Khalid Mahmood  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) has become an entity of the past by having it renamed as the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSF) through a constitutional amendment passed in the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held at Hotel Beach Luxury in Karachi on December 12.  

The change in title of body didn’t mean changing traditions as they continued getting its officials elected unopposed and the whole lot, which was ruling for the past four years, was given an extension of four more years in the 32nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) which followed the EGM. 

There were hopes of real elections taking place for the first time since the cue sports body was founded originally by the name of the Billiards Association of Pakistan (BAP) in 1958 but it didn’t happen following the unending meetings with the challengers withdrawing their names at the eleventh hour to pave the way for a walkover to the incumbent office-bearers. 

As a result of the compromise Alamgir Anwar Shaikh (President), Abdul Wahid Qadir (Senior Vice President) Jawed H. Karim (Vice President), Munawwar Hussain Shaikh (Honorary Secretary) and Amir Abbas Poonawala, (Honorary Treasurer) were re-elected to their respective posts while Abdul Khalil Bachani, Abbas Saifuddin Valika, Abdul Rashid Lehra, Dr Amin Delawalla, M Amin Bawany, Nisar Ali Bhagat and Shabbir Hussain Daruwala were elected as members of the Executive Committee. 

The sitting office-bearers of the newly created federation have accomplished their cherished dream of getting a term of four years now but it remains to be seen if they would be able to weather the storm that seems in the air.

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December 11, 2012

SSUET to keep Aligarh spirit alive by sports promotion in big way: Engr Z A Nizami


By Syed Khalid Mahmood  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET) has vowed to keep the Aligarhian spirit alive by continuing the policy of promoting sports in a big way. 

Engr Z A Nizami, Chancellor, SSUET, and President, Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), renewed the pledge while talking to a group of sports journalists at the University campus in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on December 10. 

Ali Zafar Khan Afridi, Joint Secretary (Sports), AMUOBA, who had secured admission in the Aligarh University in the 1940s on the basis of his all-round excellence in swimming, was also present on the occasion. 

“The legendary Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who is credited to have played the pioneering role in enlightening the people of South Asia, laid great emphasis on education and sports. That’s why sports featured prominently in the list of priorities at the Aligarh University which he founded. The first-ever covered swimming pool of international standard in the entire region was built there,” Engr Nizami, who himself played tennis while studying at the famous Aligarh University, revealed. 

“The SSUET, founded by the AMUOBA in 1994, has been following the principles of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the university has carried forward the Aligarhian spirit of sports among its students. We are delighted to be the largest university of the country in the private sector with more 5,000 students enrolled,” the SSUET Chancellor observed. 

“Special consideration is given to the outstanding athletes at the time of admission where the sports certificates carry certain marks. The performance in sports also helps them in getting scholarships,” Engr Nizami, who also served as the Director General of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA), added. 

“We have developed sporting facilities at the ground, owned by the Karachi Hockey Association, which is just opposite our campus. We encourage and support our students to actively take part in sports and quite a few of our teams have fared well in many competitions across the country,” he elaborated. 

“We have planned even bigger things for sports in future. We have decided in principle to build a sports complex in our new campus which is to be spread over 200 acres. Besides providing facilities for indoor games at the sports complex, we will also make an athletics field and a swimming pool,” he revealed. 

“At present we have space constraints here. Otherwise we would have developed more facilities than we actually have at the moment. Since sports remains in the list of our priorities we will make amends by building infrastructure projects that would serve the generations to come,” he announced. 

“We have passion and determination to play a lead role in motivating the students to engage in healthy activities like sports. We fully understand its importance and significance,” the SSUET Chancellor said. “Among the other initiatives to be launched in the near future are instituting ‘Athlete of the Year’ award at the SSUET,” Engr Nizami concluded.

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December 4, 2012

Asif brings world snooker crown to Pakistan after 18 years


By Syed Khalid Mahmood  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan have another world snooker champion after 18 years. It was the veteran Mohammad Yousuf who first accomplished the astonishing feat at Johannesburg, South Africa in 1994, and now it’s Mohammad Asif who has done it at Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2012. 

In the interim period, Saleh Mohammad, now having returned to Afghanistan from where he hailed, had come very close to claiming the trophy at Jiangmen, China, in 2003 but fell at the last hurdle. 

It remains to be seen if Asif’s title victory helps in the revival of the Pakistan snooker or not but the cueist from Faisalabad has done his job and deserves to be complimented at having delivered against the heaviest the odds. 

He showed great resilience during the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2012 and his performance in the final, against Gary Wilson of Great Britain, was truly outstanding. He remained unbeaten in the entire competition and didn’t falter even in the crunch situations. 

He did achieve his cherished goal but not before some terribly anxious moments. Wilson, unlike the others, was unwilling to be routed and he fought on to combat the awesome skills of Asif.

The best of 19-frame final, which lasted nearly eight hours, remained open till the end. It was anybody’s game after 16 frames with both the contestants having won and lost eight frames. 

It was down to the last few frames. Asif won the 17th frame comprehensively but Wilson still held a chance of neutralizing the lead. The momentum was with Asif and he made it count by wrapping up the issue in the 18th frame to win the marathon encounter 10-8 with the scores of 36-73, 72-11, 29-67, 3-72, 79-39, 70-43, 27-67, 41-88, 29-106, 78-47, 1-85, 111-1, 64-4. 

Asif’s journey to the final had been hassle-free. He hammered Alex Borg of Malta 7-1 in the semifinals after having Mer Alkojah of Syria 6-2 in the quarter-finals. He was equally ruthless in the pre-quarter-finals having whacked Wael Talaat of Egypt 5-2. In his earlier knockout games, he trounced Vinnie Calabrese of Australia in straight frames after having blasted Yaser Elsherbiny of Egypt 4-1. 

Asif remained undefeated in the league matches, becoming Group H champion after overpowering Shachar Ruberg (Israel), Fabian Louison (Canada), Nadir Khan Sultani (Afghanistan) andAhmed Benraïssi (France). 

He did get an advantage by having topped the group at the end of the league matches which put him among the top four in the reseeding and avoided potentially explosive duels from the dangerous cueists of China and Thailand.

It’s for the second year running when the World Amateur Snooker Championship has been won by an Asian cueist.

Last year it was Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, the teenaged sensation from Iran, who grabbed the trophy at Bangalore, India.  

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