October 26, 2018

Asghar Valika expects top performance from Pakistani cueists in Asian Tour Event

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Ali Asghar Valika, expects Pakistan’s cueists to bring home more laurels as they prepared to leave the shores of the country to participate in the second stage of the ACBS/IBSF Asian Tour Snooker Tournament being held under the auspices of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) with the blessings of the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF). 

According to the details made available by the PBSA Secretariat, the trio of Muhammad Bilal, Babar Masih and Haris Tahir was set to fly out from Lahore to Jinan, China, on October 26.

The event is being hosted by the Chinese Billiards & Snooker Association (CBSA) from October 28 to 31. 

The total prize money the event will be U$$40,000 with the winner to receive US$12,000 and the runner-up to get US$6,000. 

The top 24 cueists which include the IBSF and regional snooker players will participate in this tour, together with the Asian champions of 2018. 

The Pakistan players have  qualified in this ACBS/IBSF Asian Tour of 2018 on the basis of their performances in the ACBS events of 2018. Muhammad Bilal was the losing semifinalists in the Asian Snooker Championship 2018 while Babar Masih was the losing semifinalist in Asian 6-Red Snooker Championship 2018 and Haris Tahir ended as the runner-up in the Asian Under-21 Snooker Championship 2018. 

The PBSA Chairman reckoned that Muhammad Bilal, one of the premier cueists of the country, has made Pakistan proud by having emerged triumphant in the opening round of the event, staged at the QBSF Snooker Academy in Doha, Qatar, from September 26 to 29, which earned a handsome purse of US$12,000 with the trophy. 

“Bilal has got off to a dream start in the Asian Tour Event and he has a golden chance of emulating his feat. He has shown that he can handle the pressure of big matches and here is another opportunity for him to collect a fabulous purse again,” Asghar Valika observed in a brief chat at the Karachi Club Annexe. 

“Bilal’s performance is a source of inspiration to the whole lot. The confidence of Babar and Haris has been boosted by the title win of Bilal in Doha and they can make it count in the Chinese city of Jinan. I wish all three the best of luck,” the PBSA Chairman concluded.

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October 18, 2018

Behbud Secondary School thrash GBSS Anglo Oriental School in PVCA/EBM Inter-School cricket

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Behbud Secondary School thrashed GBSS Anglo Oriental School by nine wickets in their Group F fixture of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium, Karachi, on October 17. 

The tournament, featuring 32 schools of Karachi, is being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

GBSS Anglo Oriental School, who opted to bat first, lost wickets at regular intervals to be bowled out for 152 all out in 35.overs despite the contribution of as many as 44 extras. 

Opener Muhammad Ramiz, who made a solid 22 off 41 balls, was their only batsman to offer resistance as the innings was rocked by the spin duo of Tayyab Khan (3-26) and Akhtar Ali (2-35). 

Behbud Secondary School’s skipper Akhtar Ali, opening the innings, then blasted a breezy 33 off 15 balls to give his team a flying start to the chase of 153. He was declared Man of the Match as the pair of Sagheer Khan (52 off 69 balls) and Hasan Raza (35 off 66 balls) added 106 runs for the unbroken second wicket partnership which took their team over the line in 24.5 overs.

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Happy Palace School outsmart Beaconhouse School System in PVCA/EBM Inter-School cricket

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Happy Palace School outsmarted Beaconhouse School System by seven wickets in their Group F fixture of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium, Karachi, on October 17. 

The tournament, having the participation of 32 schools of Karachi, is being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

Beaconhouse School System, choosing to bat first, was routed for 135 in 32.2 overs despite Ghulam Mustafa’s 41 off 40 balls. They were undone by left-arm spinner Abdul Rafay, who returned the figures of four for 24 off 7.2 overs as the last six wickets tumbled for only 41 runs. 

Happy Palace School didn’t encounter much problems in chasing down the modest target of 136 in 40 overs. They needed only 25.5 overs to do it with opener Furqan Shakil, who was adjudged Man of the Match, striking three sixes and five fours in his 68 off 72 balls. 

He dominated the 69-run second wicket stand with Mohsin Khan, who returned undefeated on 29 off 39 balls. The Happy Palace bowlers toiled hard but they could not change complexion of the game.

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Abdullah Khan, Farhan Zaman shine for Oasis English School in PVCA/EBM Inter-School cricket

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Pakistan News & Features Services 

Skipper Abdullah Khan’s century and Farhan Zaman’s five-wicket haul enabled Oasis English School to hammer Qamar-e-Bani Hashim School by 182 runs in their Group E fixture of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Eastern Star Cricket Ground, Karachi, on October 17. 

A total of 32 schools of Karachi, divided equally in eight groups for the preliminary rounds, are contested the tournament being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of Peek Freans. 

Batting first, after calling correctly, Oasis English School posted a formidable total of 287 for six in the allotted 40 overs which was largely made possible by Abdullah Khan (115 off 102) and Sharjeel Ahmed (85 off 60 balls) who added 140 for the second wicket. 

Anis Moghul’s unbeaten 39 off 42 ensured that Oasis English School played out their full quota of overs, after being shaken by off-spinner Faris Hussain who captured three wickets in quick succession. 

Chasing a target of 288 in 40 overs, Qamar-e-Bani Hashim School struggled from the outset after losing wickets upfront. Even Kazim Hussain’s 35 off 36 balls could not revive their hopes as they were bundled out for 145 in 20.3 overs. 

Left-arm spinner Farhan Zaman wrecked the innings with the figures of five for 39 but Man of the Match award was clinched by his captain Abdullah Khan for his century.

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October 16, 2018

Muhammad Yaqoob's all-round excellence lifts Fahad Academy in PVCA/EBM Inter-School cricket

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Muhammad Yaqoob’s terrific all-round show earned Fahad Academy 44-run triumph over KBV-CAA School in a Group D fixture of the 9thPVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium, Karachi, on October 16. 

The tournament, having the participation of 32 schools of Karachi, is being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

Muhammad Yaqoob followed up his fluent knock of 67 down the order with a magnificent five-wicket haul with his leg-spin to lead Fahad Academy to a comfortable victory in the end. He was adjudged Man of the Match. 

Fahad Academy, who batted first after calling correctly, found themselves in dire straits with the top half of their batting back in the hut cheaply despite opener Zeeshan Ahmed’s fluent 39 off 32 balls. At 82 for six they seemed in danger of being bowled out cheaply but Muhammad Yaqoob rescued them with his 60-ball 67 containing one six and five fours. 

Fahad Academy was eventually bowled out for 200 in 32.3 overs with the bowling honours shared between KBV-CAA School’s pace trio of Zain-ul-Abedin (3-38), Ahmed Raza (2-36) and Haris Abid (2-43). 

 The 93-run second wicket partnership between opener Muhammad Maaz (63 off 97 balls) and Asad Majeed (33 off 66 balls) put KBV-CAA School in the driving seat but they were derailed by Muhammad Yaqoob who finished with the excellent figures of five for 29. 

Off-spinner Muhammad Shaheryar (2-20) also bowled well as KBV-CAA School was bowled out for 156 in 34 overs despite the contribution of 34 extras.

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Azhar Amin’s all-round efforts power GBSS Korangi in PVCA/EBM Inter-School cricket

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Skipper Azhar Amin’s brilliant all-round performance fired Government Boys Secondary School (GBSS) Korangi to six-wicket victory over Zeeshan Secondary School in a Group C fixture of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Eastern Star Cricket Ground, Karachi, on October 16. 

The tournament, being contested by 32 schools of Karachi, is being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

Electing to bat, after winning the toss, Zeeshan Secondary School lost their way after a promising start to be all out for 210 in 36.5 overs. 

Opener Hamza Monis, who struck one six and 15 fours in his brilliant knock of 92 coming from only 81 balls, dominated the 83-run first wicket stand with Mirza Saud Baig who contributed 24 off as many balls. 

At 151 for two Zeeshan Secondary School appeared heading towards a total in the excess of 250 but they collapsed dramatically, as the last eight wickets could add only 59 to the total. 

GBSS Korangi pulled it back through its spin trio of Habibullah (2-24), Abdul Saboor (2-24) and Faiz Ahmed (2-36) after medium-pacer Azhar Amin (2-20) got the prized scalp of Hamza Monis. 

The match became wide open when GBSS Korangi lost three early wickets while chasing the target of 211 in 40 overs. But the 168-run fourth wicket stand between opener Ajmal Khan (92 off 109 balls) and Man of the Match Azhar Amin, who remained undefeated on 75 off 70 balls got them over the line with seven and a half overs to spare.

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October 15, 2018

Asadullah, Hafeez shine for New Standard Secondary School in PVCA/EBM Inter-School tourney

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Wicketkeeper opener Asadullah’s century and left-arm spinner K M Hafeez’s five-wicket haul powered New Standard Secondary School to a stunning 259-run victory over Hira Foundation School in the Group C match of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium, Karachi, on October 15.

The tournament is being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

Asadullad, declared Man of the Match, smashed a couple of sixes and 18 fours in his magnificent knock of 160 coming from 130 balls. Haider Zaman (34 off 33 balls) and skipper K M Hafeez (29 off 32 balls) lent him admirable support as New Standard Secondary School, batting first after winning the toss, posted a staggering total of 328 for six in the allotted 40 overs. 

The contribution of 50 sundries, having as many as 44 wides, also contributed in boosting their score. As the bowlers of Hira Foundation School came for severe punishment, Medium-pacer Usman Maqbool was the most economical bowling giving away 38 runs in eight overs while Azan Ahmed, also a medium-pacer, picked up a couple of wickets for 60 runs. 

Chasing a formidable of 329 in 40 overs, Hira Foundation School wilted under the scoreboard pressure and the whole team was bundled out for 69 in 28.5 overs and more than half of them (35) came in the form of extras. 

K M Hafeez, with left-arm spin, returned the dream figures of five for five off eight overs, four of which were maidens. Medium-pacer Muhammad Shiraz (3-23) and off-spinner Uzaifa Shaikh (2-3) shared the remaining wickets.

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Kamran Public School overwhelm Superior Educational Academy in PVCA/EBM Inter-School cricket

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Kamran Public School whipped Superior Educational Academy by eight wickets in a Group B fixture of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Eastern Star Cricket Ground, Karachi, on October 15.

The tournament, being contested by 32 teams, is being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

Superior Educational Academy’s skipper, Zunair Ali Khan, won the toss and decided to bat first but his team was unable to make the most of it and they were bowled out for 92 in 32.1 overs with only opener Shameer Ali (31 off 53 balls) and Usman Mansuri (21 off 30 balls) could enter double figures. 

The innings was rocked by the Kamran Public School’s spin trio of Abdullah Ashfaq (3-17), Hasan Jafri (2-13) and Rashid Ghani (2-16). 

Set to score 93 in 40 overs, Kamran Public School needed only seven overs to complete the job, losing only a couple of wickets in the bargain. 

Captain Hasan Jafri, who opened the innings, led the victory charge as he hammered one six and 10 fours in his whirlwind 52 off 22 balls. He was adjudged Man of the Match after Mouzair Ali Khan had finished the job in style, striking three boundaries in his unbeaten 16 off nine deliveries.

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October 11, 2018

Tayyab Hussain spins St Paul English School to victory in PVCA/EBM Inter-School opener

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Pakistan News & Features Services

Left-arm spinner Tayyab Hussain powered St Paul English School to a convincing seven-wicket victory over Falconhouse Grammar School in the opening match of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground on October 11. 

Tayyab, adjudged Man of the Match, returned the figures of 4 for 22 off six overs which sent Falconhouse Grammar School crashing to a paltry 84 all out in 21.3 overs. St Paul English School raced to the modest target of 85 with as many as 18.4 of 40 overs to spare. 

The first match of the tournament, being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits, turned out to be a one-sided affair with St Paul English School dominating the proceedings from the outset. 

Falconhouse Grammar School batted first after winning the toss but only opener Muhammad Farjad (21 off 34 balls) and number ten Zain Mazhar (12 off seven balls) could enter double figures as they struggled against the left-arm spin of Tayyab Hussain and off-spin of Saad Abdul Rahman. 

St Paul English School lost an early wicket but solid knocks from opener Saad Baig (21 off 50 balls) and Shamsher Daniyal (15 off 43 balls) put them firmly in control and the cameo from Khizar Khan, who remained unbeaten on 24 off 20 balls, completed a comfortable victory for them.

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Younis Khan inaugurates 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Younis Khan, a former Pakistan captain and one of the greatest-ever batsmen produced by the country, inaugurated the ninth edition of the PVCA/EBM Inter-Schools Cricket Tournament 2018 in a colourful ceremony at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground on October 11. 

Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), and Shahzain Munir, Director, New Product Development, EBM, were prominent among those present on the occasion 

The members and officials of all the participating 32 schools were also in attendance, alongwith the functionaries of the tournament organizing committee, in the inauguration ceremony that lasted about an hour. 

The tournament is being organized by the PVCA and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), the makers of the famed Peek Freans biscuits. 

The PVCA will be spending over Rupees two and a half million in holding the event whose semifinals and finals, to be telecast live, are planned to be staged at here at the National Stadium. 

A total of 55 matches are scheduled to be played over a period of couple of months. The participating 32 teams have been divided equally in eight groups which includes eight government schools of the metropolis. 

At the end of the league matches, all the eight group champions will be advancing to the knockout stage of the competition, starting with the quarter-finals on November 26. The semifinals on December 14 and 15 will be followed by the final on December 16. 

Each school has been allowed to field one guest player in a match, provided he doesn’t belong to any of the other participating school and hails from Karachi. 

The organizing committee will strictly monitor the age of the players and if any player is found to be overage, the defaulting school will be scratched from the tournament. 

Besides arranging for meals and refreshments during matches, the organizers will also be providing shirts and caps to the participants and it will be mandatory for them to wear the sponsored shirts and caps during their matches. 

Alongwith the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground, the other venues to be used for the tournament will be National Stadium, Naya Nazimabad Stadium, Asghar Ali Shah Stadium, Eastern Star Ground and RLCA Ground. 

The PVCA has been organizing the Inter-Schools tournament in Karachi for the ninth time, having launched it with great fanfare in 1999.

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October 9, 2018

9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 starts from October 11

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood 
(Pakistan News &  Features Services) 

 A total of 32 teams, including eight government schools, will be participating in the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 being organized by the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) and sponsored by English Biscuit Manufacturers (Pvt) Ltd (EBM), the manufacturers of Peek Freans Biscuits. 

The details about the tournament, to be spread over a couple of months during which a total 55 matches are scheduled to be held, were unveiled in a media briefing by Fawad Ijaz Khan, Chairman, PVCA, Nadeem Omar, President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), and Shahzain Munir, Director, New Product Development, EBM, at the Karachi Gymkhana on October 9.

Ijaz Faqih and Sadiq Mohammad were the Test cricketers present on the occasion alongwith officials of the PVCA, functionaries of the sponsors and representatives of the participating schools.

It was announced that the tournament will be inaugurated by Younis Khan, a former Pakistan captain, in a colourful ceremony at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground on October 11 and it will be followed by the opening match between Falconhouse Grammar School and St Paul School. 

Fawad Ijaz Khan, in his speech, shared the role of the PVCA in the promotion of cricket at the grassroots level, as the association was now holding ninth edition of the Inter-School Tournament in Karachi, having launched it in 1999. 

“We had conceived the Inter-School tournament on the pattern of the Ruby Shield, which used to be the premier tournament of its kind and it’s still talked about with great awe. We have been successfully holding it after every two years but now it’s our goal to organize every year,” the PVCA Chairman stated. 

He noted with satisfaction that the present Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, and the current internationals like Asad Shafiq and Anwar Ali were products of the Inter-School Tournament, launched by the PVCA. 

He complimented Khawar Masood Butt, Chairman of EBM’s Board of Directors and a former cricketer, for having joined hands with the PVCA and assuring long-term support to school cricket. 

Fawad Ijaz Khan hoped that both the semifinals as well as the final of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018, to be telecast live nationally and internationally, will be staged at the National Stadium, Karachi, as was done previously. 

 “We have an understanding with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that the National Stadium will be made available to us if the ongoing maintenance work for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was completed earlier,” he added. 

Meanwhile the PVCA, with an eye on promoting the game in every segment of the society, has made greater efforts to facilitate the government schools. 

“We have not only ensured the participation of eight schools in the tournament but we have also arranged for them kits and gears free of cost,” the PVCA Chairman disclosed. 

Nadeem Omar, President, KCCA, paid glowing tribute to the functionaries of the PVCA on organizing the Inter-Schools Tournament in Karachi for the ninth time in 18 years. 

“It’s quite an extraordinary achievement by all standards. Full credit is due to Fawad Ijaz Khan and his team for having worked with missionary zeal over the years. They have performed momentous task,” the KCCA President applauded. 

Nadeem Omar didn’t mince words in stating that the PCB, utilizing its resources and outreach, should take the responsibility of organizing Inter-School tournaments all over the country on a regular basis. 

“The youth of the country needs to be motivated towards cricket and other sports. More playgrounds are needed to be developed on an urgent basis and sports must be developed from the grassroots level,” he reckoned. 

Shahzain Munir, Director, New Product Development, EBM, welcomed the initiative of the PVCA of holding Inter-School Cricket Tournament, indicating that his company would be willing to sponsor it in future as well. 

“EBM, founded in 1966, has been supportive of sports and other healthy activities since its inception. We have been promoted cricket at all levels over the years and we are prepared to extend the sporting legacy of its founder Khawar Masood Butt, who had played for Pakistan Eaglets against England in 1954,” he declared. 

Meanwhile the participating teams of the 9th PVCA/EBM Inter-School Cricket Tournament 2018 have been divided equally in eight groups. 

The Group A comprises of Falconhouse Grammar School, St Paul School, Aga Khan Secondary School and Major Ziauddin Secondary School while the Group B contains Kamran Public School, Nasra Secondary School, Superior Educational academy and GBSS Mumtaz Firdaus Colony. 

The Group C features New Standard Secondary School, Hira Foundation School, Zeeshan secondary School and GBSS Korangi No 3 while the Group D is composed of Fahad Academy, CAA School, Fahim School Systed and GBSS Bilal Colony. 

The quartet of Qamar Bin Hashim School, Oasis English Secondary School, Oxford Grammar School and Ibrahim Ali Bhai Secondary School constitute the Group E while the Group F has the presence of Happy Palace School, Beaconhouse School System, Behbud Secondary School and GBSS Anglo Oriental. 

The Group G includes Al Fatima School, City School Network, Happy Home School and GBSS Shoaib Muhammadi while the four teams in the Group H are St Patrick’s High School, Foundation Public School, FF Public School and Zaheer Public School. 

At the end of the league matches, the leaders of all the eight groups will be advancing to the knockout stage of the competition, starting with the quarter-finals on November 26. The semifinals on December 14 and 15 will be followed by the final on December 16.

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October 2, 2018

Asghar Valika praises Muhammad Bilal for winning Asian 10-Red 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 felicitated Pakistan’s Muhammad Bilal on emerging triumphant in the inaugural ACBS Asian Tour 10-Red Snooker Tournament in Doha, Qatar.

Having himself headed the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) for two successive terms, Valika also congratulated the present office-bearers of the continental body to have launched the Asian Ranking Tour 10-Red Snooker Championship. 

“It’s really heartening to have a Pakistani cueist winning such a prestigious tournament. It augurs well for the future of cue sports in Pakistan and here is another opportunity for the PBSA to move on with renewed enthusiasm,” he observed in a brief chat at the Karachi Club. 

After successful launch of World Team Cup of Snooker, the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) and the ACBS have jointly introduced the new format of 10-Reds Snooker. The new format is being played in a series of three championships during September-October 2018.

The first event in this regard was staged at the QBSF Snooker Academy in Doha, Qatar, from September 26 to 29 and it was clinched by one of Pakistan’s premier cueists, Muhammad Bilal, who earned a handsome purse of US$12,000 with the trophy. 

The Pakistani cueist was absolutely brilliant in the final as he outplayed Brendan O'Donoghue of Ireland 6-1 with the frame scores of 46-42, 36-48, 47-1, 67-1, 54-23, 55-0, 59-4. 

Bilal has remained one of the top cueists of the country, having impressed with his potting and break-building abilities in particular.

A total of 24 cueists were invited for this year’s Ranking Tour with six of them belonging to Asia, two each from Europe, Africa and Oceania and two cueists from each host countries. 

The total prize money in each championship will be U$$40,000 with the winner to receive US$12,000 and the runner-up to get US$6,000.

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October 1, 2018

Younis Khan feted by Global Sports

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Younis Khan, one of the greatest-ever batsman to be produced by Pakistan, was feted recently by the Global Sports, a non-profit organization incorporated in the US, for having reached the milestone of 10,000 runs in Test cricket.

Although the batting maestro had retired from international cricket soon after having attained the unique honour in the Caribbean last year, Younis was belatedly honoured by the US-based entity in his hometown, Karachi. 

Naeem-ul-Haq, a former cricketer and now a qualified coach, having relocated to the US, presented the award to Younis on behalf of the Global Sports in a simple but graceful ceremony during his current visit to Karachi. 

“We had originally planned presenting this award to the great Younis Khan in the West Indies when he had earned the coveted distinction of becoming the first Pakistani to get to the magical figure of 10,000 Test runs. Better late than never and we have finally done it,” Naeem remarked on the occasion. 

Naeem, who happens to be one of the ardent supporters of Younis, described him as a living legend.

“For some reason or the other, he didn’t get the recognition he so richly deserved. Throughout his career he silenced his critics with his bat. He was a man of few words but he scored heavily most of the times to prove his critics wrong time and again,” Naeem complimented. 

“The records of Younis speak for themselves. He scored no less than 10,099 runs in 118 Test matches which include as many as 34 centuries. His career batting average of 52.05 was phenomenal. In fact he remains the highest runs-getter as well as the scorer of the highest number of Test centuries for Pakistan. Yet he was subjected to undue pressure which ultimately motivated him to perform even better,” he added. 

Younis, in his brief remarks, thanked the Global Sports for having recognized his efforts by presenting him an award. He lauded the role of the Michigan-based organization in promoting cricket in US and he also expressed the desire to participate in the next year’s Diversity Cup Cricket Tournament.

“Every single effort made for the promotion of cricket in any part of the world has to be commended. It’s very encouraging to find dedicated cricket lovers taking the time out for the game that’s so dear to their heart,” Younis stated. 

Anwar-ul-Haq, who mentored Younis in the early part of his career, was also present in the ceremony. 

“Younis has been a quick learner from the outset. He always took his lessons very seriously and he was never afraid of working hard. That’s why he went from strength to strength in international cricket, overcoming all the challenges with his will power allied with sound technique,” Anwar, who coached Younis at the Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) where both of them were employed together, observed. 

Younis has continued to hold Anwar in high esteem, recalling with affection their companionship at the MCB, an institution which used to take pride in nurturing young talent.

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September 24, 2018

Asghar Valika advocates for raise in snooker rewards

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The man chiefly responsible for taking snooker to its present day status in Pakistan, Ali Asghar Valika, has advocated for raise in the rewards for the high achievers of cue sports.

The Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Asghar Valika, has not minced words in stating that a modest sum of Rupees five thousand was too meager for the highest break of a national ranking event involving the participation of the top cueists of the country. 

He was referring to the recently concluded Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 in which all Muhammad Majid Ali received was a paltry amount of Rs five thousand for his efforts of chalking up the highest break of the one-week event. 

“In my opinion the highest break award of a national ranking tournament should not be less than Rs 20,000 in the current scenario,” he reckoned. Asghar Valika also advised the Executive Committee of the PBSA to consider raising the prize money and other incentives for the cueists starting from the coming year (2019).

“I will propose the PBSA to submit new proposals to the sponsors whereby the amount of prize money may be segregated. We must realize that with the rising inflation we need to keep increasing the rewards for our cueists in order to boost their spirits,” he added. 

Having headed the PBSA with distinction for a couple of decades, Asghar Valika also expected the present government to be more sports friendly as it’s being headed by a former Pakistan cricket captain, Imran Khan. 

“The government support is essential for sports like snooker which has been bringing laurels for the country from time to time. Further there should be a consistency in the policy towards the reimbursement of award money and the deserving athletes, earning glories, should not be made to run from pillar to post to receive them,” he observed. 

“The Prime Minister, being a sportsman himself, will be advised to announce a clear-cut policy for the rewards for winning the various medals and the concerned Ministry may be directed to comply it in letter and spirit,” the PBSA Chairman concluded.

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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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