November 11, 2017

Race against time as NSK renovation gears up for PSL

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By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It will be race against time as renovation and refurbishment work at the National Stadium Karachi (NSK) has geared up for holding the third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL-3) in February 2018.

The country’s premier Test centre has been without proper international activity since 2009 although an invitation XI, featuring quite a few foreign cricketers, had played a couple of T20 games against Pakistan XI in 2012. 

The Gaddafi Stadium Lahore has hosted a few international matches, including One-day and T20 series against Zimbabwe, last year’s PSL final, T20 series against World XI and recent one T20 against Sri Lanka. 

The pressure was mounting on the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to restore international cricket in Karachi as well. The PCB Chairman, Najam Sethi, then announced that Karachi will host at least four matches in the PSL-3. 

He also disclosed having tried his best to hold one World XI match in Karachi but the International Cricket Council (ICC) didn’t agree. He hoped that the NSK will be in line for hosting international matches in future after successfully staging its matches of the PSL-3.

Holders Islamabad United, runners-up Quetta Gladiators, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi and the newly included Multan Sultan will take part in the PSL-3 which is likely to start from the middle of February and conclude with final on the Pakistan Day (March 23). 

Meanwhile the National Logistic Cell (NLC) Engineering Department has been assigned the task to complete the first phase of the renovation work ahead of PSL matches. 

The PCB had awarded a Rs. billion NSK up gradation work to NLC with NESPAK as its consultant. According to the contract, the work has to be completed in one year time. “We are determined and eager to complete the task of first phase within the allocated time,” Project Manager NLC Engineering, Wing Col (Rtd) Muhammad Sohaib, stated. 

He said that they were using different work force for the purpose. It started with a work force of at the start and presently around 50-60 people were on the job “We use the work force as per our requirement,” he remarked.

A recent visit to NSK showed that all the 22 public bathrooms with 8 to 10 toilet blocks have already been dismantled while roof of the VIP stands including Hanif Mohammad and Javed Miandad enclosures has already been removed and this will follow in respect of other stands. 

The installation of 30 new hospitality boxes with attached bath rooms located technically on the fourth floor is also part of the first phase with installation of a modern lift for these boxes. 

The chairman boxes with capacity of around 100 signatories, teams’ dressing rooms, umpires rooms, referee room, physiotherapist room, and broadcasters and media boxes will also be renovated and upgraded with modern facilities. 

The 33,000 capacity stadium last staged a major international event of Asia Cup in 2008, a memorable event participated by holders Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The entrance of the stadium will also be improved and both the roads inside will be carpeted. Parking facilities for around 500 to 600 vehicles is also being created.

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November 9, 2017

Rangers Cricket Club set to tour Rawalpindi, Islamabad

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Rangers Cricket Club, one of the oldest cricket clubs of the country, will be undertaking its annual tour of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and its 15-member squad will be leaving Karachi on November 10. 

Zia-ul-Hasan, Honorary Secretary, Rangers CC, which was established way back in 1960, informed that the club will embark on a 10-day tour of the twin cities where, as usual, they will be playing limited overs fixtures against the various local outfits. 

Imran Ali will be captaining the side with Mati-ur-Rahman, S M Babar, Fayyaz Ahmed, Rehan Sajid, Babar Hussain, Nasir Ali, Ahmed Hussain, Anus Mustafa, Khurram Ali, Jawwad Ali, Shoaib Khan, Sufiyan Ahmed, Shiraz Ishaq and Mohammad Saqib being the other member. Ali Akbar, a first-class cricketer, will accompany the team as manager.

It may be recalled that Rangers CC, affiliated with the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), had last year celebrated its golden jubilee in a befitting manner by having honoured its former players in a reception at the NBP Sports Complex, Karachi.

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Hasan Sardar shocked at Pakistan’s annihilation in Melbourne

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By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Chief Selector Olympian Hasan Sardar was shocked at Pakistan’s 1-9 loss to hosts Australia in the opening encounter of the International Festival of Hockey at the State Netball and Hockey Centre in Melbourne on November 8.

It was their worst-ever defeat in its hockey history as previously their worst had come at Terrassa, Spain, in the 2016 Champions Trophy when Holland whacked Pakistan 9-2. 

“I am stunned by the hammering at the hands of the Aussies because I was not expecting such a margin of defeat,” he reacted after the nightmarish defeat. 

“Although our team is going through rebuilding process but losing to world champions Australia by such a margin has shocked everyone attached with the national sport,” the ace centre-forward in his playing days conceded. 

He felt that lack of rest and jet lag could be the causes because the Mohammad Irfan led Pakistan outfit had entered the arena barely eight hours after having landed in Australia. Hasn Sardar, however, minced no words in admitting that the Australians were too good a side particularly on their home turf.

The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Gold Medalist was optimistic about Pakistan’s team faring better in their coming matches against New Zealand and Japan. 

“Obviously at the moment we are not expecting revolution in national hockey. Our first target is to see Pakistan become Asian champions. Once we achieve that our boys will regain confidence which is so vital in sports,” he added. 

He said that Pakistan barely had a pool of 25 to 30 players from which selectors have to pick the national team. 

Hasan Sardar stated that in order to give international experience they have blooded four juniors in the team following the Asia Cup where Pakistan secured a bronze medal.

He regretted that presently Pakistan was also struggling to score on penalty corners with skipper Mohammad Irfan and Abu Bakar, the penalty corner strikers, unable to penalty corner conversion. 

Meanwhile Blake Govers scored a hat-trick, while Aaron Kleinschmidt hit a double in the Australia’s massive win over Pakistan, who scored their solitary goal via Abu Bakar strike in the 32nd minute. 

Australia dominated the proceedings throughout the game with their first goal coming in the eighth minute, off their first penalty corner. The lead was doubled within four minutes and there was no looking back for the home side. 

Pakistan showed some resilience in the third quarter which seemed the best 15 minutes of the game for the green shirts. They earned a couple of penalty corners, and scored off one of them. Their sloppy defending, however, resumed in the last quarter which saw them conceding as many as four goals.

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November 8, 2017

Larkana wins Sindh Judo Championship 2017

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Larkana emerged triumphant in the second edition of the Sindh Inter-District Judo Championship 2017 which concluded at the Dewa Complex in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi.

Sanghar ended as the runners-up and Mirpurkhus stood third in the two-day event which was organized by the Sindh Judo Association (SJA) with the collaboration of the Sindh Sports Board (SSB) and sponsored by Kohinoor Soap and Detergent (Pvt) Limited. 

A total of 24 players from six districts participated in the championship which was won by Larkana, who accumulated 36 points as they secured two gold medals and one bronze medal. 

There was tough fight for the top slot between Larkana and Sanghar districts with a solitary point separating the two outfits. Sanghar had to be content with the second position with a tally of 35 points as they claimed a gold medal besides two silver medals. 

Mirpurkhas earned 15 points by winning three bronze medals to take the third position while Hyderabad was relegated to the fourth slot with an aggregate on 10 points. Sukkur and Nawabshah jointly shared the fifth position in the table by winning a bronze medal each.

Contests were held in the three weight categories of 50 kg, 56 kg and open weight. The 24 participants were initially engaged in preliminary round fights. 

In the finals, fierce bouts took place between the judokas of Larkana and Sanghar while defending champions Sukkur were unable to reproduce the form they had displayed in the inaugural championship. 

Mohammad Ali performed the duties of chief referee while the panel of referees also contained Mohammad Ammad, Dilawar Khan Mannan, Shahid Ansari, Ijaz Ali Buledi, Rao Wajid, Fatima Irfan and Hina Subhan. 

Syed Wasim Hashmi, President, SJA, in his welcome address during the presentation ceremony, spoke about the recent initiatives undertaken by the provincial body in the further development of judo. 

Ahmed Ali Rajput, Secretary General, SOA, was prominent among those having attended the prize distribution ceremony.

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November 7, 2017

Sindh CM announces Rs100 million for hockey promotion

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By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) received a big financial boost as the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, announced a grant of Rs 100 million for promotion and uplift of sport in the country and in the interior of Sindh.

“It’s a great gesture by Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah which was another proof of him being a sports-loving person. He has keen interest in the revival for the past glories of national hockey. He is fully aware of the rich history of Pakistan hockey and the accomplishments in Olympics, World Cups and other major events,” the PHF Secretary, Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed, disclosed after meeting the Chief Minister. 

“Ours was the most fruitful and beneficial meeting with the CM which was really big boost for hockey. He has promised his all out support and assistance in the promotion of the game in the province. He showed particular interest in promotion and development of hockey in the interior of Sindh,” the former Pakistan captain revealed. 

The announcement was made by Murad Ali Shah when three-member delegation led by the PHF President Brig (Retd) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar alongwith Shahbaz Ahmed and Tariq Hudda called on him at the CM House in Karachi.

Shahbaz Ahmed, who had successfully captained Pakistan to the World Cup triumph in 1994 at Sydney, informed the CM about the plans the PHF was working on the development, promotion and revival of national sport. 

Keeping in view the interest and support of Murad Ali Shah, the PHF Secretary said that they will be allocating National Seniors Hockey Championship as well as the National Schools Under-16 Hockey Championship to the Sindh Hockey Association. 

Shahbaz Ahmed, one of the greatest exponents of the game produced by Pakistan, expressed the confidence that holding the nationals and National School hockey will attract youngsters towards the game.

He said that the National School U-16 Hockey event will be held in newly laid turf at Bakht Ali Dahota Khairpur from November 15 under the auspices of the SHA in which 16 teams including four from Punjab, three from Sindh, two each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan and one each from Federal Territory Islamabad, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan will be taking part. 

Shahbaz Ahmed stated that history of sorts will be made when Sukkur will stage National Seniors Championship there from December 10 to 25 in which about 25 teams representing provinces and departmental teams would be in action for the crown. 

Shahbaz Ahmed emphasized that they were also focusing on the working and performance of the affiliated units of PHF particularly, the associations and they will be allocating the national events as per the performances and their organizational abilities.

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November 2, 2017

Sahibzada Sultan, Nadir Magsi in photo-finish at Gwadar Rally

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By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sahibzada Sultan Mohammad Ali demonstrated vintage skills and speed to retain his ‘Prepared Class; title in Gwadar Off-Road Rally held as part of the Pakistan Motor Rally. 

The 33-year-old Jhang-based Sultan, a household name in motor racing in Pakistan, clocked 1 hr 14 min and 20 seconds on a 125-KM Track to emerge on the top in 84 racing drivers contest. Led by over 30-member workers team and driving 4500 CC Toyota Tacomo, 

Sahibzada Sultan displayed courage and masterly control over his vehicle and reasserted his supremacy on the national racing circuit. Nadir Magsi, Pakistan’s uncrowned king of motor racing settled for the second position with 1 hr 14 min 46 seconds while another leading driver Ronnie Patel of Toyota High Motors Karachi came third with 1 hr 16 min 12 seconds. 

The Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was the chief guest, distributed prizes at a glittering closing ceremony. The Balochistan Chief Minister, Sanaullah Zehri, was also present on the occasion. 

The Gwadar Rally was part of Pakistan Motor Rally conducted by Pakistan Army which had started from Pakistan-China border at Khunjerab and concluded in the country’s emerging port city of Gwadar after crossing through various cities including Karachi. 

“I felt some problems with my suspension when I hit a dune. But I kept a good speed on straight run. It was closest competition ever in my career,” Sahibzada Sultan told reporters after winning the race. 

The veteran Racing Driver Nadir Magsi declared it as one of the most exciting races as two minutes separated three top position holders which had never happened in the circuit before. 

“It was really thrilling and exciting finish despite having high blood pressure to me,” Nadir Magsi maintained. 

Toyota Highway Motors team in fact performed creditably in the Gwadar Rally as besides Ronnie Patel third spot in Prepared Class, his wife Tushna Patel won the ladies title while Talha Mansoor finished third in Stock “A” category. Tushna driving 4000 CC Vigo Highlux covered the distance in 1 hr 46 min 6 seconds while Momal Khan was second was second with 2 hr 11min 8 seconds. 

Following are results of different categories: 
Prepare Class: 1. Sahibzada Sultan Muhammad Ali 2. Nadir Magsi 3. Ronnie Patel 
Category B: 1. Zain Mehmood 2. Amir Magsi 3. Jam Kamal 
Category C: 1. Zaheer A Shah 2. Zafar Magsi 3. Gohar Sangi 
Category D: 1. Shaheen Iqbal 2. Aminullah 3. Zafar Baloch 

Stock Class: Category A: 1. Babar Khan 2. Tariq Magsi 3. Mansoor Haleem 
Category B: 1. Mir Hayat Sadiq Zai 2. Malik Manzoor 3. M Younus 
Category C: 1. Amir A Shah 2. Sardar Leghari 3. Nawaz Ali Sabir 
Category D: 1. Sohail Abbas Khurd 2. Mir Liquat Sherwani 3. Kaleem Khan

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