September 19, 2018

Asif, Babar to represent Pakistan in IBSF World Snooker Championship 2018

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The duo of Babar Masih and Muhammad Asif, by virtue of being the top two cueists of the country in the latest national ranking chart, will be representing Pakistan in the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2018 due to be staged at Yangon, Myanmar, from November 18 to 26. 

The confirmation was made by Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), during his speech in the prize distribution ceremony of the Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 at the Karachi Gymkhana on September 17. 

Babar, who also became the top ranked cueist of Pakistan, by winning the Jubilee event, will be making his second appearance in the World Snooker Championship while Asif, only the second Pakistani to have annexed the world crown, gets yet another opportunity to have a crack at the showpiece event. 

It may be recalled that together Babar and Asif had won Pakistan the IBSF World Team Championship 2017 at Hurghada, Egypt, last year. Playing as Pakistan-2, they had overcome compatriots Pakistan-1, comprising of Asjad Iqbal and Muhammad Sajjad, in the epic all-Pakistan final. 

Babar and Asif have been the most prolific cueists on Pakistan during the current year in a period where the likes of Sajjad, Asjad and Muhammad Bilal have endured lean patch.

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Unbeaten Babar Masih regains Jubilee Ranking snooker title

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Second seed Babar Masih regained the title by toppling unseeded Asif Toba in the all-Punjab final of the Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 at the Karachi Gymkhana on September 17. The Rawalpindi-based Babar overpowered Asif, coming from the city of Toba Tek Singh, 8-5 in the best of 15-frame final with the scores being 44-82, 51-69, 63-48, 114-16, 102-19, 65-20, 9-98, 16-60, 111-8, 26-88, 107-27, 62-35, 52-7.

Babar extended his awesome form to regain the title he had first annexed in 2016. He remained undefeated in the week-long event, contested by 24 top cueists of the country. He notched up a couple of century breaks and missed one narrowly in the final which demonstrated him being on top of his game. 

It was Toba, however, who drew the first blood in the final. In fact he managed to double his lead with an impressive break of 63 in the second frame. 

Unperturbed at being 0-2 down, Babar entered the third frame in the typically calm manner of his and won it after a close fight. He bamboozled his opponent with a sizzling break of 100 in the fourth frame which restored parity in the game. 

Another cracking break of 91 in the very next frame saw him go 3-2 up. Toba was unable to come to terms with the rampaging Babar in the sixth frame either but delivered the goods in the next couple of frame to reduce the deficit to just frame. 

Once again Babar retaliated with a big break of 111 which put him back to two-frame lead. Toba refused to give up, chalking up a fluent break of 73 to keep the contest alive. But Babar was not frightened and he didn’t let his rival come close again. Starting with a break of 86 in the 11th frame, he also pocketed the next two frames to seal the fate of the match.

The mercurial Babar, who looked a picture of confidence all along, had emerged triumphant in all those matches of his which went to full distance. He wasn’t stretched that much in the final though. 

Earlier Babar had staged a magnificent comeback to overcome holder Muhammad Asif 6-5 in the all-Punjab semifinal with the frame scores of 55-14, 27-73, 57-61, 8-75, 1-70, 24-76, 59-47, 65-45, 88-31, 80-14, 74-1 while Toba, from Punjab, knocked over Sharjeel of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 43-57, 61-54, 87-13, 28-90, 26-60, 46-66, 80-0, 57-14, 77-49. 

Babar became richer by Rs one lac as he collected the winner’s trophy alongwith the six-digit purse from Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, who was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony which was also telecast live.

Runner-up Toba received a sum of Rs forty thousand with the runner-up trophy while the losing semifinalists, Muhammad Asif and Sharjeel Mahmood, got Rs 20,000 each and Muhammad Majid Ali was awarded a cash prize of Rs 5,000 for registering the highest break (118) of the championship. 

Tahir Ahmed, representing the sponsors, expressed the delight at the rising standard of snooker in the country and he hoped that greater efforts will be made in future to attract the teenagers as well as the women to cue sports. 

The top officials of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Munawwar Hussain and Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, and the President of Karachi Gymkhana, Akbar Iqbal Puri, also spoke on the occasion.

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September 13, 2018

Asghar Valika desires Asif to perform well in Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Ali Asghar Valika, has desired title winning performance from ace cueist in the ongoing Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 to let him have another go in the IBSF World Snooker 2018 to be held in Myanmar later this year. 

With the PBSA having decided to send the top two cueists in the national ranking chart, to be issued after this event, in the World Championship, Asghar Vailka felt that it was in Pakistan’s interest to have Asif in the team. 

“Asif is currently the top ranked cueist of the country as well as the defending champion in the ongoing tourney at the Karachi Gymkhana. Although he may still make it to the World Championship by securing a place in the semifinals, it would be an icing on the cake if he retains the title. That's why I wish him all the best in this particular national tournament” the PBSA Chairman stated.
“Asif, who is only 36, stands a very good chance of capturing the world title for the second time. He had done it in style in 2012 and there’s no reason why he can’t do it again. He seems to be in possession of all the ingredients of becoming the world champion once more,” Asghar Valika, who headed the PBSA with distinction for a couple of decades, reckoned. 

“During the last six years he has had his share of ups and downs but as they say form is temporary and class is permanent. He has come close to winning the World Championship a second time in the past as well but he has looked in the form of his life which makes me believe that he could do it this time,” he added. 

“It’s indeed a blessing to have a crop of youngsters seriously challenging Asif in the national tournaments but personally I feel that he among all our present day cueists he stands the best chance of bringing home the world crown,” the PBSA Chairman concluded.

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September 11, 2018

Arif Abbasi better choice than Ehsan Mani to head PCB

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The challenges to Imran Khan, the Prime Minister, are far too many. As he has been saying it repeatedly and publicly, he’s fast becoming sick of the problems coming to his knowledge during the presentations he has been taking from the various Ministries and departments after assuming office.

The one area where Prime Minister Imran Khan is most likely to deliver is cricket, the game which earned him fame and fortune. 

Arguably the greatest and the most gifted cricketer ever to have played for Pakistan, his passion for cricket is known to everyone. 

Najam Sethi, instead of going to courts, chose to resign as Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as Imran Khan prepared to take oath as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

All eyes were then on the Prime Minister himself as he was to decide the successor to the outgoing PCB chief. Imran Khan, after being sworn in as the Prime Minister, also got the constitutional right to nominate the Chairman of the PCB.

He opted for Ehsan Mani, who has also been a former President of the International Cricket Council (ICC) besides having represented the country in the game’s governing body for a number of years. 

Ehsan Mani can be considered as a good choice but given the current situation it would have been advisable to have gone for Arif Ali Khan Abbasi instead, if the idea was to recover the lost ground and conquer new frontiers. 

Arif Abbasi looked the most suitable person to lead the revival of Pakistan cricket in the current scenario when a lot of additional qualities are required besides mere experience of handling the affairs of the game. 

Having proven track record and possessing the contacts in the concerned international circles, Arif Abbasi would have stood a better chance of restoring the image of Pakistan cricket, which was severely dented during the last one decade in particular. 

Interestingly it was Arif Abbasi who had played the pivotal role in having Imran Khan installed as the captain of the Pakistan cricket team in 1982. It was a bold move which made immediate dividends.

Imran Khan was handed over the captaincy when many of the senior members of the team had revolted against Javed Miandad. 

The Pakistan cricket was facing a crisis those days but it went to the credit of Arif Abbasi, the then Honorary Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP), to have converted the problem into an opportunity and the rest is history. 

Something of that sort is the need of the hour once more. The Pakistan cricket needed a go-getter like Arif Abbasi to turn it around at this time. 

Imran Khan should have opted for Arif Abbasi, instead of Ehsan Mani, if he desired implementing his own ambitious plans of overhauling the cricket system in the country. 

The Prime Minister may still involve Arif Abbasi in some capacity but when and how it remains to be seen. It will be in Pakistan cricket’s interest to have been in the leadership role somewhere.

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Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 underway

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The third edition of the Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018, featuring the 24 top cueists of the country, has got underway at the Karachi Gymkhana on September 11.

The media launch of the one-week event was held at the Gymkhana’s Banquet Hall on September 10 in which the salient features were shared by Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), and Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA. 

The PBSA top functionaries acknowledged the support of the sponsors and the hosts, besides the electronic and print media for having brought cue sports to such high levels. 

They announced that the top two cueists of the country in the national ranking chart, to be issued after this event, will represent the country in the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2018 scheduled to be staged in Myanmar later this year.

Like the last few years, the PBSA has decided to retain 12 cueists for the next year’s National Championship whereas the remaining slots will be filled on the basis of the performances in the upcoming provincial cup tournaments. 

Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, reckoned that snooker has now become the most popular sport in the country, after cricket. 

He described the PBSA as the best performing national sports body on the basis of its performance over the past couple of decades. 

Akbar Iqbal Puri, President, Karachi Gymkhana, recalled that the club has been the hub of snooker activities in Pakistan since 1987 when his father, Mazhar Iqbal Puri, had revived the cue sports by laying the foundation of the PBSA of which he was the first President.

Meanwhile the 24 participants have been divided equally in four groups for the preliminary rounds which will continue for four days. 

Top seeded and defending champion Muhammad Asif (Punjab) has been placed in the Group A in the company of eighth seed Asjad Iqbal (Punjab), Sohail Shahzad (Sindh), Asif Toba (Punjab), Agha Bilawal (Sindh) and Sirbuland Khan (KPK). Second seed 

Babar Masih (Punjab) and seventh seed Aakash Rafique (KPK) feature in the Group B alongwith Khurram Hussain Agha (Sindh), Sharjeel Mahmood (KPK), Muhammad Naseem Akhtar (Punjab) and Muhammad Shahbaz (Punjab).

The Group C comprises of third seed Muhammad Majid Ali (Punjab), sixth seed Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir (Sindh), Rambail Gul (KPK), Muhammad Ahsan Javaid (Punjab), Abdul Sattar (Sindh) and Umair Alam (Sindh) while the Group D contains fourth seed Muhammad Bilal (Punjab), fifth seed Muhammad Ijaz (Punjab), Sultan Muhammad (Sindh), Shahid Aftab (Punjab), Haris Tahir (Punjab) and Ali Haider (Punjab). 

At the end of the league matches, the top two cueists from each of the four groups will be advancing to the knockout phase of the competition starting with the quarter-finals on September 15. 

Both the semifinals will be taking place on September 16 with the final and the prize distribution to be organized on September 17. The semifinals as well as the final will be beamed live on Geo Super.

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August 13, 2018

Giant-killer Ijaz stuns Babar in final to clinch NBP snooker title

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Giant-killer Muhammad Ijaz staged an incredible fightback to stun third seed Babar Masih in the marathon final of 10th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi on August 13.

Trailing 2-6 in the best of 15-frame encounter, the unseeded Ijaz, making his maiden appearance in the final of any national ranking tournament, pulled it back dramatically to win the all-Punjab final 8-6 with the scores of 43-63, 78-42, 21-83, 39-93, 94-20, 20-79, 58-67, 17-57, 68-45, 58-51, 56-40, 62-1, 58-02, 77-50. 

Hailing from the city of Sargodha, the 30-year-old Ijaz, younger brother of Muhammad Sajjad, the three-time national champion and a former world number two, who was also watching the final, kept his cool and never lost belief in himself. 

“I was indeed concerned at having gone to interval 2-6 down. But I kept saying to myself that it’s just matter of one frame to turn the tables. Thankfully I won the very first frame after resumption and I didn’t let the momentum slip out of my hands. Indeed it was a very tough match for me but honestly I never lost hope,” Ijaz remarked in a brief conversation soon after collecting the first national ranking title. 

The 31-year-old Babar, a seasoned cueist from Rawalpindi, was disconsolate for obvious reasons at having let the trophy get out of his hands from a vantage position. 

“Oh yes I really don’t know how it happened. I was supremely confident about running away with the title when the interval was announced at which point I was leading 6-2. It looked a matter of time for me to complete my victory. But I was unable to exercise much control in the latter half of the match as I ran out of luck. Indeed it’s disappointing to have lost the match which I should have won comfortably,” he regretted. 

The first half of the final was all about Babar as he fired breaks of 62 and 81 in successive frames to establish his dominance. Ijaz did win second and fifth frames but he seemed down and out when his opponent won the next three frames on a trot to move 6-2 up. 

But the story changed in the second half which was all about Ijaz as he pulled it back magnificently and all attempts from Babar to stop the carnage didn’t yield results. Ijaz emerged as the deserved champion in the end, signing off with a superlative break of 54 in the 14th frame. 

Saeed Ahmed, President and CEO of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), who was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony, presented a cheque of Rupees one lact to Ijaz alongwith the glittering trophy. 

Babar had to be content with a purse of Rupees forty thousand with the runner-up trophy while top seeded Muhammad Asif, who was edged out by the eventual champion in the semifinals, collected the award of Rupees five thousand for registering the highest break of the nine-day event (138). 

Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) and Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, addressed the ceremony which was also attended by the top NBP officials, including Iqbal Qasim and Shaukat Mahmood Khattak.

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August 9, 2018

Cueist Muhammad Sajjad confident of regaining form, titles

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Muhammad Sajjad, one of the most prolific cueists of the country during the last one decade, has sounded confident about regaining his top form and recapturing the titles having slipped out of his hands during the current year. 

The three times national champion and who has remained the runner-up in both the World Championship as well as the Asian Championship, was reacting to his early elimination in the 10th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 being staged at the NBP Sports Complex in Clifton, Karachi on August 9.

Sajjad, having clinched the National Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2017, failed to force his way into the knockout rounds of the second national ranking event of the year which may not allow him to participate in the third and final competition of the year due to be held next month. 

“By the look of things I am unlikely to qualify for the upcoming ranking tournament in September. Neither do I stand much chance to be given direct entry in the next year’s National Championship for which I will be required to qualify by playing and performing in the Punjab Cup,” he remarked in a brief conversation after succumbing to yet another defeat in the last league outing of the ongoing NBP Ranking Championship.

“Indeed it has been a nightmarish year for me at the table. But this is not going to be the end of the world for me. I have enough belief in my capabilities to bounce back and reclaim the trophies,” he said. 

“As far as this particular tournament is concerned, I just couldn’t recover after been hammered in straight frames in my opening game. But such things do happen in every athlete’s career and I am not too perturbed about it,” the 32-year-old Sajjad, hailing from Punjab’s city of Sargodha, shared. 

When inquired about the decline in his form leading to inconsistency and failure, he reckoned that one of the reasons could be the changes in his style of play which he had brought about by watching some of the top cueists of the world. 

“Probably that proved to be my undoing and I was unable to gain the usual command over my game. Therefore I will revert to my original style of play which had earned be laurels and medals,” he added. 

He didn’t consider the young and emerging cueists of the country as major threats to him in future. Neither did he feel threatened by the vastly experienced hands in the circuit.

“The youngsters are talented but I have the skills and the confidence besides the experience to take them on. I am capable of defeating any cueist, irrespective of his name or reputation,” he asserted. 

It may be recalled that Sajjad, acclaimed for his potting and break-building abilities, had gone down fighting 7-8 to Yan Bingtao of China in the epic final of the IBSF World Snooker Championship in 2014 while he was also the runners-up in the Asian Snooker Championship 2010 having lost to Issara Kachaiwong of Thailand in the final.

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August 7, 2018

Kizilbashing win Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Kizilbashing emerged as the champions in the 23rd edition of the Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament 2018 which concluded at the Aslam Bridge Hall, housed in the National Stadium, Karachi, on August 5. 

Comprising of Anwar Mumtaz Kizilbash, Tehsin Gheewala, Anis-ur-Rahman, Hasan Askari, Rashid-ul-Ghazi and Sheikh Abdul Muqeet, Kizilbashing won the two-day event by accumulating 96.03 points in seven rounds. 

The Karachi Bridge Associates (KBA), led by its President Dr Minhaj Qidwai, and also featuring Faraz Hyder, Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi and Abdul Kader Bhurgri, claimed the runners-up slot with an aggregate of 89.02 points. 

The Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP), captained by its chairman Khurshid Hadi, and also having seasoned campaigners like Kemal Shoaib, Abdul Rahman Allana, Major Akhtar Zaidi and Javed Ahmed Miran, finished third with its tally of 76.44 points. 

The fourth position was clinched by Shahab IV, containing Shahab Latif Khan, Abdul Qadir Sakaria, Farhat Abbas and Muhtashim Ashai, who aggregated 70.85 points. They were leading the table at the end of the second round. 

Another fancied team Bilal, having the presence of Shahin Iqbal, Parvez Mirza, Gulzar Ahmed Bilal, Farrukh Liaquat and Muhammad Ghufran Ashraf, had to settle with the fifth position as they secured 70.29 points. 

Only eight teams contested the annual event having offered handsome prize money of Rs 150,000, donated by Khurshid Hadi, Founder Chairman, MSAP and a former President of the PBF. 

The championship is being organized by the KBA to pay homage the late Muhammad Aslam Shaikh, a former Secretary of the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), acclaimed to have devoted his life for the development of the game. 

The PBF and the KBA had jointly instituted the memorial event in 1996 whose declining attendance over the last couple of years has caused concerns. As compared to the average of 16 to 17 teams participating in the earlier years, the participation had gone down to 11 teams last year and it further dropped to only eight this year.

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August 5, 2018

NBP President inaugurates Ranking Snooker Championship

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The top functionary of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has pledged greater support for snooker in particular and sports in general as part of their policy of promoting healthy activities throughout the country.

Saeed Ahmed, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NBP, announced that their institution was looking forward to continue backing snooker as the cueists were bringing laurels for Pakistan. 

Talking to the media corps, after inaugurating the 10th edition of NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi on August 5, he expressed his delight with the improved performances of the Pakistani cueists at the regional as well as at the international level. 

“It’s particularly pleasing to note that the performance level of the cueists has improved considerably after getting employment at our bank. Obviously the job security is a vital element and the cueists have been able to concentrate single-mindedly on their game instead of worrying for other things,” the NBP President reckoned. 

He also commended the role of Iqbal Qasim, a cricket great, in having facilitated the promotion of various sports from the platform of NBP for decades. 

“He (Iqbal Qasim) brings professionalism. He was a cricket star in his playing days and then turned out to be wonderful administrator as he headed our sports division so successfully over the years. We have welcomed him back wholeheartedly at the same position and he’s delivering again,” the NBP President acknowledged. 

The President of the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA), Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, in his brief remarks on the occasion, complimented NBP for being the only department to have supported snooker consistently. 

“Besides sponsoring and hosting a national ranking snooker tournament every year for the past one decade, NBP has also provided jobs to more than half a dozen cueists which has helped tremendously in boosting cue sports all over the country,” the PBSA President recognized. 

The chief of the NBP Sports Division, Iqbal Qasim, gave the assurance to the participating cueists that better arrangements would be made for them in the future with the expansion of the complex. 

Shaukat Mahmood Khatak, Executive Vice President, NBP, added that more facilities would be added at the sports complex in due course of time.

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August 4, 2018

Khurshid Hadi regrets thin attendance in Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The low turnout has marred the 23rd edition of the Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament 2018 got underway at the Aslam Bridge Hall, housed in the National Stadium, Karachi, on August 4.

Only eight teams turned out for the annual event, organized by the Karachi Bridge Associates (KBA), to pay homage the late Muhammad Aslam Shaikh, a former Secretary of the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), known to have devoted his life for the development of the game. 

The thin attendance looked all the more disappointing for the fact that the event offered handsome prize money of Rs 150,000, donated by Khurshid Hadi, Founder Chairman, Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP) and a former President of the PBF, with even the fifth placed team assured of a share in it. 

According to the information made available by the organizers, the tournament was participated by 11 teams last year which was the lowest in its 22-year history. Now the record has come down to eight teams in its 23rd year. 

The PBF and the KBA had jointly instituted the memorial event in 1996 in the memory of Aslam Shaikh, who was tragically murdered in August 1995. 

Khurshid Hadi, having headed the PBF with distinction for a couple of tenures until 2008, conceded that the declining attendance in the bridge tournaments of late was a cause of serious concern and appropriate damage control measures must be taken by the administrators of the game.

He pointed out that the ongoing development work at the National Stadium was also one of the contributing factors in not letting the interested players reach the Aslam Bridge Hall due to the hardships they faced. 

Meanwhile Shahab IV, comprising of Shahab Latif Khan, Abdul Qadir Sakaria, Farhat Abbas and Muhtashim Ashai, got themselves on top of the tree in the points table at the end of the second round with their score of 27.44 points. 

KBA, led by its President Dr Minhaj Qidwai, and also having Faraz Hyder, Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi and Abdul Kader Bhurgri, were a close second with 26.58 points while Kizilbashing, containing Anwer Mumtaz Kazilbash, Tehseen Gheewala, Anis-ur-Rahman, Hasan Askari and Rashid-ul-Ghazi, were placed third with 23.87 points. 

MSAP, captained by its chairman Khurshid Hadi, and also having the likes of Kemal Shoaib, Abdul Rahman Allana, Major Akhtar Zaidi and Javed Ahmed Miran, had moved to fourth position with 18.68 points after having endured a setback in the opening round.

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NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 offers enhanced purse

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A total of 40 cueists, instead of the customary 32, will be participating in 10th edition of NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 getting underway at the NBP Sports Complex in Clifton, Karachi, on August 5. 

The Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA), accepting the demands of the country’s top performing cueists, has enhanced the number of entries, the prize money and the daily allowance for the participants. 

The total prize money in the nine-day championship, being sponsored by National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for the 10th year running, has been raised to Rs 185,000. The daily allowance for the each participant will now be Rs 2,500 per day instead of Rs 2,000. 

The winner of the event will now be getting Rs one lac instead of Rs 60,000 while the runner-up will receive Rs 40,000 with the losing semifinals and the losing quarter-finalists getting Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 each respectively. The highest break award will earn a purse of Rs 5,000. 

Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Bilal, Babar Masih, Muhammad Majid Ali, Muhammad Ahsan Javaid and Ali Haider are the six seeded cueists from the province of Punjab while the other two seeds Sultan Muhammad and Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir hail from the host province of Sindh. 

The 40 participants have been divided equally in eight groups for the preliminary rounds whose matches will be spread over five days. The winner and the runner-up of each group will qualify for the knockout rounds, starting with the pre-quarter-finals. 

Top seeded Muhammad Asif (Pjb), Agha Bilawal (Sindh), Rashid Mahmood Abbasi (Isb), Ian Mark John (Sindh) and Sirbuland Khan (KPK) are drawn in the Group A while the Group B comprises of second seed Muhammad Bilal (Pjb), Shahid Aftab (Pjb), Khurram Hussain Agha (Sindh), Muhammad Sajjad (Pjb)and Shaikh Muhammad Mudassir (Pjb). 

The Group C contains Babar Masih (Pjb), Sohail Shahzad (Sindh) Muhammad Ijaz (Pjb), Muhammad Umar (Pjb) and Imran Shahzad (Pjb) while the Group D features fourth seed Muhammad Majid Ali (Pjb), Qadeer Abbas (Pjb), Aamir Sohail (KPK), Musaddiq Mahmood (Isb) and Muhammad Shahbaz (Pjb). 

The Group E is composed of fifth seed Muhammad Ahsan Javaid (Pjb), Aakash Rafique (KPK), Muhammad Imran (KPK), Muhammad Faizan (Sindh) and Umair Alam (Sindh) while the quintet of sixth seed Sultan Muhammad (Sindh), Muhammad Naseem Akhtar (Pjb), Rambail Gul (KPK), Muhammad Asif Toba (Pjb) and Abdullah (KPK) constitute the Group F. 

Seventh seed Ali Haider (Pjb) leads the pack in the Group G in the company Asjad Iqbal (Pjb), Mubashir Raza (Pjb), Haris Tahir (Pjb), Abdul Javaid (Pjb) while the Group H has the presence of eighth seed Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir (Sindh), Abdul Sattar (Sindh), Farhan Noor (Pjb), Usman Ahmad (Pjb) and Sharjeel Mahmood (KPK). 

The league matches will continue to be best-of-seven-frame contests. The quarter-finals will be of best-of-nine-frame matches; the semi-finals best-of-11-frame; and the final best-of-15-frame. As in the past, the semi-finals and the final will be telecast live on Geo Super.

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August 2, 2018

Khurshid Hadi adds value to Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Khurshid Hadi, Founder Chairman, Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP), and a former President of the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), has come to the rescue once more by sponsoring the latest edition of the Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament 2018 which will be getting underway at the Aslam Bridge Hall, housed in the National Stadium, Karachi, on August 4 

The tournament, an annual feature in the bridge calendar for the past couple of decades, is organized to pay homage the late Muhammad Aslam Shaikh, a former Secretary of the PBF, who was murdered in August 1995. 

He has been hailed as person who had devoted his life for the development of the game. 

The PBF and the KBA had jointly instituted the memorial event in 1996 and it has been held regularly since then.

The MSAP Chairman, Khurshid Hadi, has now added greater attraction of prize money and the KBA was approaching all duplicate bridge players to make it a grand and memorable one. 

Khurshid Hadi’s own team, comprising of some of the bridge stalwarts, will also be participating in the event alongwith other fancied outfits, expected to turn up in event being held in the memory of one of the most eminent bridge personalities of the country. 

The activities of duplicate bridge are in full swing at the Aslam Bridge Hall, despite difficult approach due to development work being carried on at the National Stadium. 

The Aslam Memorial Bridge Tournament 2018 will be spread over two successive days and the proceedings will commence at 2.30 pm on both days.

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Iqbal Qasim’s return as NBP sports chief welcomed by PBSA

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The return of Iqbal Qasim as sports chief of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and the increment in the winner’s purse of the annual event highlighted the media launch of the 10th edition of NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 held at the Karachi Gymkhana on August 2.

The details about the championship, to be staged at the NBP Sports Complex in Clifton, from August 5 to 13, were unfolded by Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA). 

He was handed over the sponsorship cheque of Rupees 13 lacs by Shaukat Mahmood Khatak, Executive Vice President, NBP, on the occasion. 

Iqbal Qasim, one of the cricket greats, who had retired from the bank, after having headed the sports division for a couple of decades, has been brought back by the management to regain the lost glories and his return was warmly welcomed by the snooker fraternity. 

“As the sports head, his monumental role in having as many as five cueists employed at NBP deserves special mention. Now his return at the same position augurs well for cue sports and we are confident that greater support would be extended in his new tenure,” Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, acknowledged in his speech. 

“NBP has been the leading department in supporting snooker over the years and their continued sponsorship for the past one decade has helped enormously in raising the standard of cue sports and bringing home more medals,” the former PBSA President recognized. 

The modest and unassuming Iqbal Qasim, in his brief remarks, promised more facilities for snooker at the NBP Sports Complex despite the space constraints. He vowed to continue supporting the cause of cue sports which has been bringing laurels for the country on a regular basis. 

Meanwhile the winner of the NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 will be getting Rs one lac which represented a substantial increment of Rs 40,000. The total prize money in the nine-day event will be Rs 185,000. The runner-up will receive Rs 40,000 while the losing semifinals will be getting Rs 10,000 each while the losing quarter-finalists will be given Rs 5,000 each. 

The highest break award carries a purse of Rs 5,000. Besides raising the number of participants from 32 to 40, the PBSA, upon the request of the cueists, has also increased their daily allowance and each of them will now be getting Rs 2,500 per day instead of Rs 2,000. 

As far as the format of the championship is concerned, the contestants have been divided equally in eight groups for the preliminary rounds whose matches will be spread over five days. 

The winners and the runners-up of each group will qualify for the knockout rounds, starting with the pre-quarter-finals. The league matches will be best-of-seven-frame contests. The quarter-finals will be of best-of-nine-frame matches; the semi-finals best-of-11-frame; and the final best-of-15-frame. 

As in the past, the semi-finals and the final will be telecast live on Geo Super, the premier sports television channel of the country.

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June 20, 2018

Abdul Majid Khan: The gentleman journalist is no more

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The sports journalist fraternity of Pakistan has lost its oldest surviving member with the passing away of Abdul Majid Khan. He died in his home city of Karachi on June 14. He was 90.

Although he had been writing and reporting rather sparingly in the last few years of his life, he often visited the Karachi Press Club (KPC), an institution which was very dear to his heart. 

But he had written extensively in a professional career spanning more than half a century. He was one of the most well-read journalists of the country as he worked for Dawn, the iconic English newspaper, for a number of decades. 

Although he covered every conceivable sport but tennis and squash remained his forte. He knew inside out about these two games in particular and his depth of knowledge was incredible. 

Majid Bhai and Khan Sahib, to his colleagues and friends, he epitomized ethics and professionalism. 

Like any other human being on the planet he also had a circle of friends but he was one man who was thought to have never compromised while discharging duties.

Interestingly a few of his own colleagues, with whom he shared the newsroom, had the firebrand reputation but he was as cool as cucumber. 

He was hardly ever noticed arguing or fighting with anyone. Considering the fact that Dawn remained the number one English daily to be published from Pakistan in almost the entire length of his service, he was never heard to have misused his authority or anything remotely close to it which is quite remarkable if not unbelievable in a society where he lived and worked. 

His cool temperament was also reflected in his writings. He reported the most controversial of incidents in an objective manner without adding fuel to fire or taking sides. 

Another outstanding quality which he possessed was his willingness to guide and even mentor newcomers in the profession without seeking any reward. 

He was truly a selfless man who believed in honesty at all times. He was polite and humble to juniors as well as to those contemporaries of his who belonged to different school of thought. 

He will surely be remembered and missed. His gentlemanly acts in a profession as volatile as journalism will never be forgotten. Hopefully the flame he has lit will be taken care of in the years to come.

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June 13, 2018

Omar Cricket Club edge out Qasmi Gymkhana to regain KG title

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Omar Cricket Club regained the title by edging out Qasmi Gymkhana by three runs in a thrilling final of the 33rd Karachi Gymkhana Ramazan Festival Twenty20 Cricket Tournament 2018 for the Omar Associates Trophy at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground on June 13.

It was in the fitness of things that the title clash turned out to be the most exciting of all 31 matches of the tournament. With four runs needed on the last ball it was anybody’s game until the very end. 

Omar CC, fielding with 10 men only, controlled its nerves better to be the deserved winners of the trophy. 

The champions, Omar CC, felt hard done, however, at the controversial decision of the umpires, Riazuddin and Muhammad Shakil, for not having allowed them a substitute fielder in place of Umar Akmal and they had to field with 10 men for the better part of their opponents’ innings.

Put into bat, Omar CC had to be content with a total of 179 for nine in the allotted 20 overs. Fine knocks from opener Ahsan Ali (44 off 25 balls), Rameez Raja (44 off 21 balls) and Danish Aziz (45 off 35 balls) allowed them to reach 110 at the halfway stage but they were unable to make the most of it. 

Qasmi Gymkhana fought back through the spin duo of Hasan Sardar (3-18) and Wasim Ali (2-41) with medium-pacer Kamran Hussain (2-26) also bowling well to limit the damage.

Set to score 180 in 20 overs, Qasmi Gymkhana got off to a sluggish start, scoring 70 in the first 10 overs and losing four wickets. But breezy knocks from Kamran Hussain (41 off 21 balls) and Faizan Ahmed (25 off 13 balls) opened up the game ensuring a tight finish. 

Left-arm spinners Muhammad Asghar (3-18), named Man of the Match, and Irfan Gohar (3-37) played the lead role in restricting Qasmi Gymkhana to 176 for eight off 20 overs. 

Nadeem Omar, President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), who was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony, presented the winners’ trophy to the Omar CC skipper, Saad Nasim, alongwith a purse of Rupees eight lacs while a cheque of Rupees four lacs was collected with the runners-up trophy by the Qasmi Gymkhana captain, Abid Qasmi.

Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, former Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), and Mazhar Iqbal Puri, President, Karachi Gymkhana, were also present in the ceremony. 

Usman Khan of Omar CC was declared Man of the Tournament while Bilal Irshad (Qasmi Gymkhana), Faraz Ahmed Khan (Omar CC), Rameez Raja (Omar CC) and Hasan Mustafa (Qasmi Gykhahana) were adjudged as best batsman, bowler, fielder and wicketkeeper respectively. 

The total prize money of the tournament, sponsored by Omar Associates (Pvt) Ltd for the sixth year running with Agha Steel Industries, Acme Technologies and Zaraiz Atelier being the co-sponsors, was well over Rs 16 lacs which included individual awards of Rs 313,000.

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June 6, 2018

Omar Associates regain Naya Nazimabad trophy

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Omar Associates regained the trophy by toppling National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) by 29 runs in the final of the 5th Naya Nazimabad Ramazan Cup Twenty20 Cricket Tournament 2018 under floodlights, at the Hussain Lawai Stadium in Karachi on June 4.

Opener Usman Khan smashed a breezy 71 and all-rounder Muhammad Nawaz followed up his rapid 29 with a three-wicket haul to engineer yet another title victory for Omar Associates, who had also clinched the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2014. 

The ground was already packed to capacity when Omar Associates chose to bat first after winning the toss. 

They entertained the crowd with sizzling strokes and piled up a huge total of 201 for seven in the allotted 20 overs. 

Openers Umar Akmal and Usman Khan gave their team a flying start by blasting 64 in the six overs of power play. Umar slammed two sixes and five boundaries in his 46 off 28 balls. 

The momentum was maintained despite losing three quick wickets in space of six balls for just one run. Bilal Asif took two wickets on successive balls that of Umar and Sami-ur-Rahman for golden duck while Saad Nasim was dislodged by Sohail Tanvir also for a duck which had reduced Omar Associates to 67 for three. 

Usman, however, batted brilliantly under pressure and hoisted four sixes besides belting half a dozen boundaries in his 71 off 36 balls to lift his team’s total. In the end Nawaz plundered 26 off 12 balls with three massive sixes and one four to set a difficult task for their opponents. 

NBP, in reply, was restricted to 172 for eight in their 20 overs despite the heroics of opener Ahsan Ali who topscored with 21-ball 42 laced with three sixes and four fours. Raza Dar banged three sixes in his 37 and Bilal Asif hoisted three sixes in his 11-ball cameo of 22. 

Left-arm spinner Muhammad Nawaz caused the main trouble for the bankers by grabbing three wickets for 26 runs while medium-pacer Anwar Ali snapped up two wickets for 24 runs. 

The Governor of Sindh, Muhammad Zubair, was the chief guest in the ceremony which was presided over by the former Pakistan captain, Shahid Afridi. Also present on the occasion were Nadeem Omar, President-Elect, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), and Arif Habib, Chairman, Arif Habib. 

The chief guest presented a glittering trophy alongwith a cash award of Rupees 12 lacs to the winning captain, Saad Nasim, while the runner-up trophy was collected by the NBP skipper, Bilal Asif, with a purse of Rupees six lacs. 

The Rupees 40,000 Man of the Match award for the final was shared between Usman Khan and Muhammad Nawaz of Omar Associates. 

Bilal Asif was declared the player of the tournament for his all-round excellence while Sahibzada Farhan and Zafar Gohar, both of them from Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), were adjudged best batsman and the bowler of the tournament respectively. The trio received Rs 25, 000 each.

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June 5, 2018

Nikhil Dutta tops list of locals in GlobalT20 Canada draft

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

As many as 20 Canadian players among strong contingent from associate member nations were drafted by cricket luminaries for inaugural Global T20 Canada scheduled to be staged in Toronto from June 28 to July 15.

The Toronto off-spinner Nikhil Dutta’s selection marked a landmark moment for the sport of cricket in Canada. Dutta, a member of Canada’s men’s national team, was selected in the seventh round for a $25,000 salary, confirming the 23-year old’s reputation as Canada’s top player. 

He leads a group of 21 Canadian players drafted by the league’s five Canadian franchise teams, Toronto Nationals, Vancouver Knights, Edmonton Royals, Montreal Tigers and Winnipeg Hawks. 

“I feel honoured to be drafted in Global T20 Canada and excited to be playing with all the coveted players from international cricket.This tournament will provide great exposure for Canadian cricket and give opportunities for up and coming players to play with the big players, and gain valuable experience,” Dutta remarked on the occasion. 

The 21 Canadians, along with 11 other players from Associate Member nations, give Associate Member nations one-third of the total player pool (32 of 96), a higher proportion than the world’s other top professional Twenty20 leagues.

The United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nepal, Bermuda and Hong Kong account for the 11 players, with notable selections including Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal, 6th round), Babar Hayat (UAE, 7th round) and Ali Khan (USA., 9th round). 

The proportion signifies Global T20 Canada’s focus on cricket development as players from Associate Member nations will have an opportunity to play at the highest level alongside the sport’s top stars and minds. 

Each team was required to have four Canadians on its roster and select two players from Associate Member nations. 

“This is an exciting time for Canadian cricket, and cricket development around the world with many players participating from Associate Member nations. Normally players from these countries don’t get a chance to play at this level with the types of marquee players we have, so the game is going global, and this is where Global T20 Canada stands out,” Tournament Director, Jason Harper, observed. 

Dutta, who was born in Kuwait, has a solid international Twenty20 resume with stints in Pakistan Premier League for Barisal Bulls and St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Caribbean Premier League. He joins West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy, a two-time ICC World T20 champion, who will helm the Toronto Nationals.

Sammy, along with international stars Chris Gayle (Vancouver Knights/West Indies), Lasith Malinga (Montreal Tigers/Sri Lanka), Shahid Afridi (Edmonton Royals/Pakistan) and Dwayne Bravo (Winnipeg Hawks/West Indies) will lead the five franchises.

Tournament organizer Mercuri Canada Ltd. also invited international marquee players David Miller (Winnipeg Hawks/South Africa), Chris Lynn (Edmonton Royals/Australia), Sunil Narine (Montreal Tigers/West Indies) and Andre Russell (Vancouver Knights/West Indies). Australian Steve Smith, making his return to pro cricket since his suspension by Cricket Australia, will play for Toronto.

Overall, 80 players were chosen over 16 rounds by the five Canadian franchise teams. They hail from 19 different countries and were selected from a pool of over 1,500 cricketers that registered from 40-plus countries around the world.

Five of cricket’s luminaries, Phil Simmons (Toronto Nationals), Donovan Miller (Vancouver Knights), Mohammad Akram (Edmonton Royals), Tom Moody (Montreal Tigers) and Waqar Younis, (Winnipeg Hawks), will be coaching the teams.

Each team selected 16 players with four roster spots designated for Canadians, keeping with Global T20 Canada’s mandate to advance the development of cricket in Canada.

“Global T20 is an unprecedented opportunity for Canada’s best players to develop under the mentorship of some of the sport’s great minds. Canadian cricket and sports fans will get an opportunity to see our cricketers play alongside the world’s best, and that should have a significant impact on the performance of Canada’s men’s national team in future international competitions,” Ranjit Saini, President, Cricket Canada, declared.

The tournament’s sixth squad, Cricket West Indies Representative Team, will exclusively consist of Caribbean players selected by Cricket West Indies, the region’s governing body of cricket.

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Waqar, Moody, Simmons join GlobalT20 Canada as coaches

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Three of the vastly experienced cricket coaches, Waqar Younis of Pakistan, Tom Moody of Australia and Phil Simmons of the West Indies, have joined the inaugural Global T20 Canada set to take place in Toronto from June 28 to July 15. 

They are among the biggest names of international cricket, having proven track record in coaching. Their presence to guide the Canadian franchise teams will certainly add value to the landmark tournament. 

According to the details made available by the organizers, Waqar, a legendary fast bowler and a former Pakistan captain, who also coached the national team, will now be coaching Winnipeg Eagles while Moody, an enterprising Australian all-rounder, and ex-coach of Sri Lanka, will be associated with Montreal Tigers.

The former West Indian all-round Simmons, who was the coach when his national team won the ICC World Twenty20 2016 in India, will be coaching Toronto Nationals. Mohammad Akram, another former Pakistan fast bowler and coach of Pakistan Super League franchise, Peshawar Zalmi, will now also be coaching Edmonton Royals while Donovan Miller, a renowned Jamaican coach, will be on duty for Vancouver Knights. 

Aside from two of the 10 marquee players announced on May 24, each coach will select 14 additional players for their team from a vast talent pool. In just two weeks, over 1,500 players from Canada and around the world had registered for selection.

“I look forward to this experience. I have fond memories of playing in Toronto in the 1990s. I still remember the kind of excitement it created at that time and this time it should be no different. Global T20 has announced some magnificent names as marquee players," Waqar was quoted as saying recently. 

"I am looking forward to the draft and making a well-balanced side for my franchise, Winnipeg Eagles,” he added.

“This is truly a wonderful opportunity for the game in Canada and North America. I am delighted to be involved as one of the head coaches of the league. I will do everything possible in my role to support the success of this tournament,” Moody remarked.
“Competition like this in the North America region is very much the need of the hour to strengthen the development of the game in an associate country like Canada. I am looking forward to sharing my coaching experience with Toronto Nationals and would like to congratulate Cricket Canada and Global T20 Canada for this initiative,” Simmons observed. 

Besides the celebrated coaches, the marquee players of the tournament would be Chris Gayle (West Indies), Steve Smith (Australia), Andre Russell (West Indies), Sunil Narine (West Indies), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Chris Lynn (Australia), Darren Sammy (West Indies), David Miller (South Africa), Lasinth Malinga (Sri Lanka) and Dwayne Bravo (West Indies).

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May 25, 2018

IPL thrills but kills; Kohli’s injury jeopardizes India’s chances of overseas success

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Only time and honest assessment will tell if the Indian Premier League (IPL), launched with great fanfare by Lalit Modi and company in 2008, has done more good to the Indian cricket in particular and the game of cricket in general or has it inflicted more harm.

11 seasons into the IPL and the damage caused has been phenomenal. 

It has certainly boosted the bank balance of the already cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but this has come at a huge cost. 

India’s performances in the international matches, most notably in Tests, have suffered immensely despite the fact that they are currently ranked number one team in the ICC ratings for the longer version of the game. 

They were already the top ranked Test side when the IPL thing occurred in 2008. They had already won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 which resulted in the establishment of the IPL. They were already among the top performing ODI sides, packed with megastars around that time, having won the triangular series in Australia in 2007-08.

Isn’t it ironical to note that since the advent of the IPL, India have not won a single edition of World T20! India’s title triumph in the 2011 World Cup at home was made possible by the players who already were stars in their own right before the IPL had come into being.

So what good has the IPL done in improving India’s performance in international matches across all formats? 

Hasn’t the BCCI done a disservice to have bound all its cricketers for a couple of months to play for cash at the expense of national interest? 

The latest casualty is none other than the indomitable Virat Kohli. 

Although the BCCI had tried to downplay it, the fact of the matter is that the Indian got injured while playing the ongoing edition of the IPL and he has become a doubtful starter for the all-important tour of England starting next month. 

While all his foes and their cronies have struggled to find a way to dislodge Kohli, over the years, the BCCI has done the trick by getting him on verge of being sidelined. 

If Kohli, the Indian captain, misses any part of the upcoming England tour it will be another slap on the face of the BCCI officials who must be tried for having committed a serious offence. 

Since the Supreme Court appointed committee has been looking after Indian cricket of late it has become their responsibility to try those who have played foul and compromised on national interest.

The damage has already been done. Kohli’s county stint, which was aimed at giving him a better chance to acclimatize to the English conditions prior to the challenging tour, has been cancelled with a neck injury suffered during his penultimate IPL on May 17. 

It has been announced officially that Kohli will not be training for the next three weeks with a BCCI press release saying he will only resume on June 15 at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. 

He will then undergo a fitness test before he flies out for the tour of Ireland and England in late June. India’s chances of succeeding in England will be seriously jeopardized in the prevailing conditions. 

Even if he makes it to the team, he will be out of match practice for long and expecting him to regain the Midas touch right away will be a bit too much.

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May 16, 2018

Asghar Valika urges for enhancing snooker rewards

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By Ehsan Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The pioneer and key promoter of snooker in Pakistan, Ali Asghar Valika, has called for enhancing the prize money in the national circuit and take it to millions so that the country could sustain its supremacy in the international arena.

“The manner in which the game has progressed and the consistency with which the Pakistani cueists have performed at the world and the Asian level the prize money of the national events merits considerable enhancement to keep them motivated,” Asghar Valika, a former President of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS), observed in an interview at the Karachi Club on May 15. 

“There is no major increase in the incentives and prize money for almost a decade now. We must offer at least Rupees one million as prize money in every event to make the circuit more competitive and thus raise the standard of the game,” he suggested. 

Having headed the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) for a couple of decades from 1988 to 2008, he didn’t mince words in stating the enhancement of prize money of national tournaments was the need of the hour. 

“Our brilliant cueists have achieved excellence in the game with a couple of world individual titles besides two team titles. They are a force to be reckoned with at the Asian level,” Asghar Valika, under whose leadership took the game to new heights in Pakistan, remarked. 

The legendary Muhammad Yousuf had made the major breakthrough by winning the IBSF World Championship in South Africa in 1994 before clinching the Asian title at Karachi in 1998.

Asghar Valika was of the opinion that the PBSA should curtail their administrative expenses and only one official should accompany the team and also manage the team and being the delegate. 

He also advised the PBSA to make money through televised matches. He dispelled the impressions of disharmony in PBSA Executive Committee after Munawwar Hussain Shaikh took over from Alamgir Anwar Shaikh after his two terms as the President. 

Asghar Valika said that Pakistan desperately needed a permanent coach who should train, groom and tactically prepare our cueists for international level. 

“Our cueists are doing well at the international level and international coach can further harness their game and mentally toughen them,” he added. 

Responding to a question, he said he doesn’t need recognition from anyone and feels proud and satisfied with whatever he contributed for the game of snooker in Pakistan. 

“I don’t need any reward or award because achievement of players during my era and now make me happy and satisfied that they brought honor and glory to the country,” Asghar Valika said. 

He made it clear that he was elected as the Life Chairman of PBSA by General Body and not by the executive committee. 

Asghar Valika showed his disappointment over the fact that no national snooker activity was taking place at Karachi Club’s Amir Bakhsh Billiards Hall which used to be the hub of Pakistan Snooker in the past. 

“Snooker activity at Karachi Club was stopped due to misunderstanding and efforts are afoot for it revival there. The Latif Masters should also be revived as it was a major event held in memory of Pakistan’s greatest billiards player, who finished runners-up in world championship in India,” he continued. 

He recalled that PBSA struggled in early 1980s but sponsorship and support of Red & White and its marketing head, Shahid Ahmad Khan, changed the destiny of Pakistan snooker. 

Asghar Valika, who remained the boss of Asian body for six years, said that holding of Asian Snooker in Karachi in 1991 and later staging of IBSF World Snooker Championship made Muhammad Yousuf, Yasin Merchant, Pradit Chuchat (Thailand) household names after matches were nationally live televised. 

He wanted the PSBA to must open up and induct peoples from other provinces in their fold and also hold a couple of event outside Karachi. 

“Snooker should not be confined to Karachi and events should be held in other provincial capitals as well on rotation basis,” he concluded

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