October 8, 2020

PCB holds talks with PSL franchises

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A positive and constructive meeting was held between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and all the franchise owners of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore on October 7. 

The PCB media release informed that the participants engaged in positive and fruitful discussions with a view to resolving outstanding matters, disputes and grievances. 

"Both sides held healthy candid discussions airing concerns and their respective viewpoints on outstanding matters,” the statement said. 

The PCB presented to the team owners a draft proposal which has been put together at the behest of the franchises who requested that the Board explore a more equitable model. 

Both sides, according to the PCB, have agreed to delve deeper into the proposed model with their respective financial and operational teams over the coming weeks and aim to resolve outstanding concerns and find a mutually beneficial position as soon as possible.

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Babar Azam not taking any opponents lightly

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Pakistan's T20 and ODI skipper, Babar Azam, has categorically stated that it’s out of question taking any international team lightly in this era.

"We have to apply ourselves in the home series against Zimbabwe to win it ahead of the tour of New Zealand later this year. If perform well against the tourists we would be oozing with confidence when tackling the Black Caps in their own den,” the celebrated batsman observed in a session with media.

“Efforts would be made to perform 110 percent in the series against Zimbabwe. We have to try to win these matches which would be helpful for playing tests and ODIs in New Zealand,” he added. 

“In New Zealand we have to play in different conditions, so if we play well here that would build up our conference to play against Kiwi. The ongoing National T20 Cup is an excellent opportunity for youngsters to impress and stake a claim for a spot in the team that will play Zimbabwe. The series against Zimbabwe will also serve as practice for the tour of New Zealand,” Babar Azam reckoned.

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October 7, 2020

Dean Jones farewelled at Melbourne Cricket Ground

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The historic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was the venue where Dean Jones was privately farewelled by his family with a lap of honour on October 2. 

The public address system of the MCG played tunes by musicians Elton John and INXS, who happened to be friends of the former Australian batsman turned commentator. 

The memorial service was limited to just 10 attendees, which included wife Jane and daughters Isabella and Phoebe, because of Victoria's ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. A public memorial service for Jones has been planned at a later stage when more mourners will be permitted to attend. 

"We have been deeply moved by the outpouring of love for Dean over the last week and can't thank everyone enough for their support and for sharing their memories with us," Jane Jones remarked on the occasion, adding that the family had been extremely moved by the way her husband's life and cricket had been remembered and revered by so many. 

"It has been an awful time to navigate as a family, but I could not have thought of a more fitting place to say goodbye to my husband than under the lights of his beloved MCG. What better way to honour him than with the music of his friends Elton John and INXS echoing throughout the empty stadium. We'd like to extend a huge thank you to the Melbourne Cricket Club and the MCG for their willingness to create our personal tribute to Dean and for Cricket Australia's support,” she said. 

"We would also like to extend a big thank you to the Department of Foreign Affairs for ensuring Dean was returned home to us as quickly as possible. We will forever miss Dean's energy, his zest for life, passion for cricket and his love for us as a family," she acknowledged.

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October 6, 2020

Afghanistan’s Najeeb Tarakai dies at 29

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
One of Afghanistan’s top order batsmen, Najeeb Tarakai, has died at the age 29 after succumbing to injuries sustained in a road accident according to tweet issued by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on October 6. 

“ACB and Afghanistan Cricket Loving Nation mourns the heart breaking & grievous loss of its aggressive opening batsman & a very fine human being Najeeb Tarakai (29) who lost his life to tragic traffic accident leaving us all shocked! May Allah Shower His Mercy on him,” the ACB tweeted. 

The ACB had earlier tweeted on October 3 that Tarakai had been severely injured in a car accident the previous day and had subsequently undergone a surgery. 

He was being treated in Nangarhar at the time and it was communicated officially that he would be shifted to Kabul or outside Afghanistan as soon as possible whenever allowed by health officials. 

Tarakai's, who represented Mis Ainak Knights in the Shpageeza Premier League last month, had represented his country in 12 T20Is and one ODI for Afghanistan, having made his international debut in 2014.

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October 5, 2020

Pakistan Navy retains National Shooting Championship

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By Masood Sattar Khan 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Pakistan Navy has won National Shooting Championship consecutively for the third time. The week-long mega event concluded at the Army Marksmen Unit in Jhelum on October 5. 

Being the defending champions, Pakistan Navy won the title with 17 Gold, 17 Silver and 11 Bronze medals whereas Pakistan Army secured the runners-up position and Pakistan Air Force got third position. 

Over 300 shooters belonging to the teams of Army, Navy, Air Force, Punjab, Sindh, WAPDA, ASF, Federal Rifle Association (FRA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) participated in the event and displayed their skills.

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September 28, 2020

Deano-the dasher leaves cricket world gloomy

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Naeem-ul-Haq in USA

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The entire cricket world has become gloomy all of a sudden because of the shocking death of Dean Jones, the former Australian top-order batsman, while performing duties as commentator in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. 

Jones was as jolly and outgoing as ever when describing action only the previous night, with no hints of any discomfort or illness, but he collapsed in the lobby of the five-star hotel where he was staying on the morning of September 24. 

Brett Lee, also a former Australian star, was reported to be very close to him as he watched in utter disbelief his fellow commentator suffer a cardiac arrest. He showed the presence of mind and tried his level best to revive Jones but his efforts could not yield the desired results. 

The gloom spread all over the world because, Jones, popularly known as Deano, was a lovable character, adored from North to South and East to West. There are not many cricketers around who have enjoyed this kind of admiration globally. 

As far as my knowledge is concerned, he was the first top-order batsman of Australia to have adopted aggressive approach in batting from the moment he arrived at the crease. 

Australia has been the home to many world-class batsmen, before and after him, but in my estimation Deano was a trend-setter of sorts. 

He showed attacking instincts and loved to dominate the bowlers with unorthodox shots, which were not very common those days. 

The likes of Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden emerged in the following years to make Australia the number one team as they ruled the world for a long time. The foundation for attacking batsmanship in Australia was laid by none other than Deano, I think. 

If my memory serves me right, it was Deano who introduced colorful glasses in the cricket field. The cricketers from all over the world then emulated him. He was a character in the truest sense of the word.  
Upon hanging his boots, when he had still seemed good for many more years, he made his presence felt in the team of commentators with his distinct voice and witty remarks. 

Then we also saw him excel in the role of a coach. He helped Islamabad United win the title of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). He was the head coach of Karachi Kings in the PSL 2020. 

It’s hard to believe that such a proactive and energetic man has left this mortal world abruptly. The cricket world may never be the same without him and he will be missed.

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September 24, 2020

ICC saddened at passing of Dean Jones

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has expressed sadness at the passing of former Australian Test batsman Dean Jones, at the age of 59, in Mumbai on September 24. 

“We are extremely sad to hear of Dean’s sudden death and I would like to extend our deep condolences to his family and friends on behalf of the ICC,” Manu Sawhney, Chief Executive, ICC, said in a statement. 

“Dean was a prolific batter playing in 52 Tests and 164 ODIs and was part of the 1987 Australia team who won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. He had a significant impact on the game of cricket as a player, as an advocate for the development of the sport as a coach and latterly in his role as a broadcaster. He will be sorely missed by all those in the cricket family,” the ICC chief added. 

An attacking batter, the Victorian featured in 52 Tests, making 3631 runs at an average of 46.55. In 164 ODIs, he made 6068 runs, at 44.61, with seven hundreds and 46 fifties. He was a part of Australia's winning team in the 1987 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, hosted jointly by Pakistan and India, and remains number five on the all-time MRF Tyres ICC Men’s Batting Rankings in the format. 

One of his most memorable Test innings came in 1986, when in the heat and humidity of Chennai, he battled exhaustion and illness to make a heroic 210 in what would be only the second tied Test ever. He had retired from international cricket in 1994 and went on to become a coach and more recently a broadcaster commentating on cricket around the world.

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‘Deano’ Jones suffers fatal cardiac arrest

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Former Australian batting great Dean Jones, having become one of the characters of the game in his later years because of his coaching and commentating stints, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in the Indian city of Mumbai on September 24. He was 59. 

Jones, affectionately known as Deano to his friends and colleagues, was in Mumbai as a part of the commentary team for the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, was reported to have suffered a massive heart attack around noon IST.

"It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing away of Dean Mervyn Jones AM. He died of a sudden cardiac arrest. We express our deep condolences to his family and stand ready to support them in this difficult time," Star India confirmed his death through a statement. 

He was recognized as one of the most explosive batsmen of his generation as his stroke-play was more suited to the shorter format of the game, making him one of the most valuable players in One-day Internationals. Jones also played 52 Tests besides 164 ODIs for Australia and his international career was cut short abruptly in mysterious circumstances, leading to speculations of various kinds. 

His second innings in cricket arena was equally, if not more, successful as he excelled in the role of a commentator as well as a coach. He seemed to have become a kind of folk hero in South Asia with his continuous engagement in cricket activities in this part of the world. He was head coach of Karachi Kings in the last edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

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September 22, 2020

Winter Olympics thwarted on false pretexts

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
As China was making all out efforts to ensure timely completion of all projects related to the 2022 Winter Olympics to make the international gala event a memorable one for the game lovers, however at the same time, some organizations were out to thwart the international event on false pretexts.

"Some organizations are trying to link the Beijing Winter Olympics with so-called human rights issues to pressure China,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, stated during a briefing in Beijing on September 22. 

“Such an attempt to politicize the sporting event is wrong. These so-called attempts are in fact against the Olympic Charter and on the other hand it sabotaged the development of the international human rights cause,” he reckoned. 

The 2022 Winter Olympics, also known as the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, and commonly known as Beijing 2022, is scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20 February 2022, in Beijing, the capital of China, besides and towns in the neighboring Hebei province.

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Veteran cricket scorer Ben Lawrence is no more

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By Masood Sattar Khan

(Pakistan News & Features Services)


Veteran cricket scorer and statistician, Bernard Lawrence, who was more famously known as Ben, has died peacefully at the age of 81 in Karachi. 

His death, having taken place on August 13, was confirmed by the family sources. He is survived by five children, three sons and two daughters. 

Born at Lahore on June 28, 1939, he was acclaimed as one of the pioneers in cricket scoring in Pakistan. He did scoring assignments for Pakistan Television (PTV) as well as Radio Pakistan, becoming a known face in commentary boxes, since 1970. 

Having studied at the iconic educational institutions like St Patrick School & College and Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Ben continued doing cricket scoring stints for nearly three decades when pursuing a career in advertising industry. 

He did the scoring, mostly for PTV, in numerous Tests and One-day Internationals during a long career which also took him to England for the 1983 World Cup and to Australia and New Zealand for the 1992 World Cup, which was won by Pakistan. 

Ben was also engaged in statistical works of cricket for a number of years and he compiled and published a few books on the subject. 

He was a recipient of several awards in the field of advertising as he served some of the top organizations like MNJ Communications, Manhattan Pakistan, Argus Advertising, Spectrum Communications and Paragon Advertising.

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September 15, 2020

Michigan Cheetahs run away with Diversity Cup 2020

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By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The fifteenth edition of the Diversity Cup Cricket Tournament 2020 turned out to be a spectacular success as all the participating teams and their supporters thoroughly enjoyed the three-day extravaganza in Michigan’s capital Detroit over the Labor Day weekend. 

Organized by Global Sports for the fifteenth year running, the Diversity Cup lived up to its big reputation of being one of the most popular cricket tournaments in USA. 

Most significantly people from all over the United States and other parts of the world turned up for the event despite the apprehensions caused by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It was really fascinating to be a part of the festivities which continued from September 5 to 7. These were the moments to cherish as many of us were having such kind of get-together after very long time. 

The pleasant weather was an added attraction for participating cricketers of the eight teams who were contesting for the trophy.

All the teams played very well but only two of them could have reached the final and among them one of them had to run away with the trophy.

The contestants were pooled equally in two groups for the preliminary rounds. Pakistan Greens, India Blues, Bangladesh Tigers and Asia United were placed in the Group A while Michigan Cheetahs, USA Blues, Smart Choice World XI and Mich-ca XI were drawn in the Group B.

As it turned out, Michigan Cheetahs and Pakistan Greens advanced to the final after having played quality cricket over three days. The title clash was won by Michigan Cheetahs as they overpowered Pakistan Greens by eight wickets.

Pakistan Greens, which also had the services of former Pakistan Test fast bowler, Muhammad Asif, could not extend its brilliant form in the final after having won all their four previous matches in the tournament.

They stood very little chance of winning the final after being restricted to a modest 140 for seven in the allotted 20 overs. Michigan Cheetahs overhauled the target with remarkable ease, powered by half centuries from Lewis and Taylor.

Dr Shaukat Rasheed, based in Toledo, Ohio, had fielded the Pakistan Greens outfit for the first time and his team succeeded in making its presence felt in its maiden appearance.

Iftikhar Ahmed, the owner of Michigan Cheetahs, was rewarded for showing faith in youngsters and his team also featured Najaf Shah, a fast bowler from Pakistan.

Naeem Iqbal of Baitul Mall was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony in which Nabeel Ahmed, who has bought a franchise team of Michigan for the Minor League Tournament, also witnessed the final The total prizemoney in the tournament was USD 17,500.

On the sidelines of the Diversity Cup, a coaching camp for the youngsters was held on September 5 in which Jalaluddin, a former Test fast bowler and an ICC Level-4 coach, was the master trainer and I carried out the duty of assisting him. It was an encouraging sign to find the teenagers eager to improve their cricketing skills.

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September 10, 2020

Simmons, Pollard shine in final to earn CPL title for Trinbago Knight Riders

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Skipper Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons powered Trinbago Knight Riders to an emphatic eight-wicket victory over St Lucia Zouks in the final of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy Ground in Port of Spain on September 10.

Pollard’s four-wicket haul sent St Lucia Zouks tumbling to 154 all out and the record unbroken 138-run third wicket partnership off just 88 balls between Simmons and Darren Bravo took Trinbago Knight Riders home with consummate ease. The title victory was achieved with conviction as Bravo and Simmons put together the highest-ever stand of the CPL much to the delight of their owners and supporters.

St Lucia Zouks lost the plot after having got off to a breezy start in the powerplay overs. Rakheem Cornwall swept Akeal Hosein for four but was lucky to edge over DJ Bravo at slip. Kieron Pollard gave the second over to Ali Khan, who responded by flattening Cornwall’s middle stump. Andre Fletcher clipped fine for four, the Zouks thus closing the second over at 16 for one.

Mark Deyal slog swept Hosein for two fours while Fletcher was aggressive against Sikandar Raza lofting him over cover and long-on for sixes then cutting for four. Khary Pierre went for just five but Fletcher twice smoked Ali through cover for four and the Zouks motored to 60 for one off the powerplay. \

Deyal lofted Pierre over cover for four and launched Pollard for six, but struggled to combat Fawad Ahmed’s googly and edged to DJ Bravo at slip. Hosein returned with a tight over, and at halfway the Knight Riders had slowed the Zouks to 79 for two.

Roston Chase clipped through midwicket for four early in Fawad’s second over, which went for 10, but Fletcher’s assault ended as he aimed Pollard down the ground but found only Darren Bravo at long-off. Najibullah Zadran slashed his first ball for four, and the over went for seven to leave the Zouks in need of a partnership at 79 for three off 12 overs.

While Chase slog-swept the last ball of Pierre’s over for a six, he and Mohammad Nabi fell within four balls, the former chipping a Pollard cutter to long-on and the latter clubbing Fawad to long-off. Zouks captain Daren Sammy smashed his second ball for a six and after 15 overs the Zouks were 123 for five.

Despite a Najibullah four, Ali’s return over went for just six, and Sammy should have fallen to Hosein but Ali badly misjudged the catch. Najibullah flicked Hosein for a delightful Hero Maximum over cover, but Hosein recovered to dismiss Sammy leg before. After 17 overs, the Zouks were 138 for six..

DJ Bravo was unable to bowl and so Pollard had to step up at the death and did so admirably, picking up two wickets with his off-cutter. First Javelle Glenn looped to backward point and then Najibullah failed to clear Raza at deep backward square off another cutter. Kesrick Williams was run out, Ali Khan bowled Zahir Khan with a perfect yorker, and the Knight Riders had bowled the Zouks out for a decent rather than dominant total. Simmons pulled Scott Kuggeleijn for four first ball of the chase, becoming Hero CPL’s all-time leading run-scorer in doing so.

Webster swept Nabi for four but then top-edged off Chase, Williams taking a fine catch. After three overs, the Knight Riders were 14 for one. Tim Seifert got off the mark with a four off Kuggeleijn, but fell edging behind next ball. Darren Bravo too got off the mark with a boundary, a glorious lofted six over long-on off Chase, and Simmons took boundaries straight, fine down the leg side and backward of point off Williams’ first over to close the Powerplay with the Knight Riders 40 for two.

Chase and Nabi put the pressure on, going for just five between them, and Simmons and Bravo both struggled against Zahir. When Simmons did take on the big shot though he nailed it over the fence, and at halfway the Knight Riders were 59 for two and needed 96 more to win.

Sammy brought himself on and bowled five good deliveries, but Bravo smashed the sixth for a six, and Simmons pulled Williams for a six then cut him for four, becoming Hero CPL 2020’s leading run-scorer and bringing up his 50 off just 31 balls.

Bravo though continued to struggle against Chase, who closed out a superb spell. After 13 overs, Bravo was just 23 off 32 balls, and the Knight Riders needed almost 10 an over, but he eased both of those equations somewhat with two Hero Maximums off Glenn. Williams’s third over went for nine thanks to two wides and a loose short ball, and the Knight Riders entered the last five overs needing 45 with eight wickets still in hand.

Kuggeleijn managed to go for just four off the 16th despite starting with a wide, but Simmons targeted Zahir, taking him for four off the first and six off the second. Bravo added two big sixes, the second bringing up his 50 off 45 balls. Suddenly, the Knight Riders needed just 18. Simmons was not going to hang around now, walloping Kuggeleijn for a six over midwicket then clubbing him over cover and slicing him through third man for two fours. The winning runs came off an inside edge but there was now no denying the Knight Riders’ domination of Hero CPL 2020.

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September 9, 2020

CPL’s team of the tournament announced

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The team of the tournament for the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) was announced on September 9. 

It has been selected by the tournament’s commentary team, comprising of Tom Moody, Ian Bishop, Daren Ganga, Danny Morrison and Samuel Badree, all of them being former international cricketers. 

The team contains three players from the Trinbago Knight Riders, who have gone through the group stages unbeaten, three members of the Guyana Amazon Warriors squad while two players from the Jamaica Tallawahs and one each from the St Lucia Zouks, St Kitts & Nevis Patriots and the Barbados Tridents have made the cut.

The team, captained by the West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard (Trinbago Knight Riders), also features Glenn Phillips (Jamaica Tallawahs), Sunil Narine (Trinbago Knight Riders), Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana Amazon Warriors), Nicholas Pooran (Guyana Amazon Warriors), Darren Bravo (Trinbago Knight Riders), Mohammad Nabi(St Lucia Zouks), Jason Holder (Barbados Tridents), Rayad Emrit (St Kitts & Nevis Patriots), Imran Tahir (Guyana Amazon Warriors) and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman (Jamaica Tallawahs). 

The selectors also picked one Caribbean and one overseas 12th man to round out the squad having Scott Kuggelejin (St Lucia Zouks) and Keemo Paul (Guyana Amazon Warriors). 

“After healthy discussion and debate the commentators have finalized what they believe is a power packed all-star XI from Hero CPL 2020,” Tom Moody, CPL’s Director of International Cricket, remarked. 

The final of the tournament, to be contested between Trinbago Knight Riders and St Lucia Zouks, will take place on September 10, due to start at 10 am Eastern Caribbean Time at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Port of Spain.

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Iran’s expulsion called if champion wrestler executed

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A global union representing 85,000 athletes has called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed champion wrestler Navid Afkari whose case has stirred outcry.  
The 27-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler faces two death sentences after being convicted of stabbing a water security guard to death and other charges relating to anti-government protests in 2018, according to state media.

 The horrific act of executing an athlete can only be regarded as a repudiation of the humanitarian values that underpin sport,” an international wire news agency quoted the World Players Association (WPA) Director, Brendan Schwab.

“It must result in Iran forfeiting its right to be a part of sport’s universal community,” the WPA official remarked. 

Afkari has stated having been tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists, and his attorney maintained that there was no proof of his guilt.

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September 4, 2020

Chinese bridge proficiency event concludes

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The 13th Chinese bridge and proficiency competition for foreign secondary students in Pakistan has successfully been concluded online. 

According to details made available by Zhang Hewing, a diplomat, Alina Zhang Kiani earned first position and she was followed by Sukhan Fatima and Maryam Jafar who second and third respective. 

Bridge is one of the key components of mind sports and China happens to be one of its major promoters. It may be recalled that the inaugural Mind Sports Olympiad was organized in Beijing in 2008, a few months after the Summer Olympic Games also staged there.

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Iqbal Qasim quits as cricket committee chief; another jolt to PCB

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The resignation of Iqbal Qasim as the chief of the cricket committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and its immediate acceptance by the Lahore-based headquarters clearly suggested that all was not well in running cricket affairs of the country.  

The soft spoken and well-mannered Iqbal Qasim, who scripted quite a few victories for Pakistan during his illustrious career as a left-arm spinner, has had the reputation of being a thorough gentleman all along as he became one of the best sports administrators of the country, after hanging his boots. 

He has held numerous positions over the years, having carried out the thankless job of being the national chief selector more than once. He may be a man of few words but he has had the ability to handle the most hostile of situations across the table. 

Being a proud product of departmental cricket, he obviously didn’t mince his words in letting his opinion know when the PCB took the controversial decision of marginalizing the departments who had played pivotal role in the development of cricket in Pakistan. 

Iqbal Qasim’s resignation as the cricket committee chief of the PCB doesn’t augur well for the Pakistan cricket which will be the biggest loser in his non-presence. He had been entrusted with the responsibility of heading the committee earlier this year.

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September 2, 2020

Alamgir Shaikh, friends celebrate father of Pakistan snooker’s birthday party

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Ali Asghar Valika, acclaimed as the father of Pakistan snooker, was pleasantly surprised when a group of his prodigies, spearheaded by Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, arranged a luncheon party to celebrate his birthday party at the Karachi Club Annexe on September 2. 

Asghar Valika, credited to have revived snooker and taken it to another level, is currently Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA). 

He was elected unopposed as the PBSA President for five successive terms, from 1988 to 2008. 

Although it was an unofficial party of friends but it turned out to be the get-together of the PBSA top officials with Alamgir Anwar Shaikh (Co-Chairman), Munawwar Hussain Shaikh (President) and Zulfiqar Ali Ramzi (Secretary), Irfan Moten (Treasurer) and Shariq Vohra (Member, Executive Committee) in attendance alongwith other office-bearers of the governing body of cue sports in the country. 

The soft spoken Asghar Valika, having turned 73, was delighted to be surrounded by his friends who wished him long life with immaculate health. Alamgir Shaikh, the motivating force behind organizing the birthday party, was mighty pleased with the occasion as he led the prayers for longevity of their beloved mentor whom he described as a source of constant motivation.

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September 1, 2020

Preparations for Winter Olympics 2022 in full swing at Beijing

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Despite the challenges being faced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, China has continued working round the clock to complete all arrangements for holding of the Winter Olympics 2020 in Beijing as per schedule. 

Air China, the state’s own carrier, has started flying its aircrafts with the theme paint for promotion of the next Winter Olympics in a big fashion. 

China's capital city of Beijing, in the Hebei province, will be playing host to the next Winter Olympics scheduled to be staged there from February 4 to 20, 2022. Some of the events will also be taking place in neighboring towns. 

Beijing, which also hosted the Olympic Games in 2008, is set to become the first city in the world to host both the Summer Olympics as well as the Winter Olympics.

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August 31, 2020

Diversity Cup to get underway on September 5

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By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

While the focus of attention for the past one month was Pakistan’s much talked about tour of England where we were able to witness some high quality cricket despite rainy summer.

Now all roads will be leading to Detroit in Michigan where Global Sports will be staging the 15th edition of the Diversity Cup, regarded as one of the most popular cricket tournaments in USA, from September 5 to 7.

It’s going a festive weekend with lots of entertainment to be available for the cricket lovers who will be assembling from the different parts of the US, despite the threats posed by coronavirus (COVID-19).

A total of eight teams will be competing for the trophy. They will be battling it out over three days for getting the lion’s share in the attractive prizemoney of USD 17,500.

The participants have been divided equally in two groups. Pakistan Greens, India Blues, Bangladesh Tigers and Asia United have been drawn in the Group A while Michigan Cheetahs, USA Blues, Smart Choice World XI and Mich-ca XI constitute the Group B.

An added feature during the cricket carnival at Detroit will be a coaching camp for the youngsters on September 5.

Jalaluddin, a former Test fast bowler and an ICC Level-4 coach, will be master trainer at the youth camp and I have been assigned the responsibility of assisting him during the one-day event.

The Diversity Cup has become one of the success stories because of the continued hard work of the organizers and the team owners who have been generously supporting the tournament over the years.

Dr Shaukat Rasheed, based in Toledo, Ohio, will be fielding the Pakistan Greens outfit for the first time and he has reckoned it to be a strong and balanced side. I might be associated with their team in the capacity of coach, if needed.

Shahid Malik, a leading businessman, has been a huge support to the cause of cricket by owning a high profile team for the past eight years. The teams, owned by him, have often contained four to five international cricketers.

Ajay Reddy, another ardent cricket supporter, has been managing India Blues for last three years quite enthusiastically and his team has performed consistently over the years.

Ghulam Afser, who has been running Bangladesh Tigers for the last eight years, is an invaluable support to the organizers as has been Sarwat Iqbal, who owns USA Blues.

Their passion for the game has helped the tournament immensely. Well it’s time to celebrate as the Diversity Cup has turned 15 now.

Having been associated with the Global Sports in the capacity of Vice President, Advisor and coach since inception, I feel proud to be a part of the team which has made it one of the most popular annual cricket events of the country.

Global recognition has also come our way as the International Cricket Council (ICC) had recognized the Diversity Cup as a tournament in 2016. It’s really pleasing to share that an average of seven to eight Test cricketers from different countries has been in action during the course of a tournament. 

The presence of the legendary cricketers like Greg Chappell, Mushtaq Muhammad, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Muhammad Azharuddin, Asif Iqbal and Younis Khan has also contributed significantly in adding value to the Diversity Cup.

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August 29, 2020

Chitral Broghil festival pushed forward

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The traditional Chitral Broghil Festival, scheduled to be held early next month, has been pushed forward, the organizers announced on August 29. 

The Tourism department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced that the festival had to be rescheduled because of heavy torrential rains. 

Now the festival will be held from September 12, although it was originally scheduled to get underway on September 5. 

The events to be contested during the traditional festival include polo, cricket and football besides tug of war and other local games. The organizers will also be establishing a special zone to house the tourists.

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August 25, 2020

Tyson prayers footage gets viral

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A video footage got viral on social media that showed Badou Jack, Mike Tyson and Amer Abdallah praying at the Mike Tyson Ranch. 

The Swedish professional boxer, Badou Jack, shared a video of praying with legend Mike Tyson on his Instagram account. 

Tyson, 54, who dominated the heavyweight scene for almost 20 years after winning the title in 1987, was due to take on 51-year-old Jones in an eight-round exhibition in California on September 12. 

However, the bout has now been postponed until late November after the organizers chose to make the pay-per-view event bigger with more fights on the undercard. 

“Changing the date to November 28 will give more people the opportunity to see the biggest comeback in boxing history. This temporary inconvenience will last longer than Roy Jones Jr. He better be ready, I’m coming full force,” Tyson commented.

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IPL 2020 to be staged in UAE from September 19

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) is a set to kick off for only the second time in its history outside India from September 19. It was scheduled to take place in March but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The event will now be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) received government clearance in this regard. 

According the organizers, the tournament is scheduled to be held in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi from September 19 to November 10. 

The BCCI was awaiting clearance from Indian ministries of home and external affairs before announcing the schedule. 

The IPL chairman, Brijesh Patel, a former Test batsman, expressed the confidence that the UAE will turn out to be the perfect hosts.

"We are very confident. The UAE has the infrastructure. They have hosted many international matches, and not just the IPL," Patel was quoted having observed in an interview. 

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) said that it was looking forward to hosting the biggest cricketing event in its history.  

“We feel extremely privileged to host what could be considered the pinnacle-event of our favourite sport. The magnitude of being in a position to bring the IPL to the vast cricket-loving global community, during current events which have greatly impacted our daily lives, is one we take with extreme importance,” Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Chairman of the ECB, remarked. 

“This is undoubtedly the highest profile cricketing event to be held in the UAE and our team will continue to support all facets [of the tournament] and work toward delivering a successful event for the enjoyment of all sports-fans; here in the UAE, in India and across the world,” he added. 

After receiving official approval, the governing bodies in India and the UAE can now begin the task of finalizing the infrastructure and protocols to hold the event in a bio-secure environment. The players will undergo three COVID-19 tests in India and three tests after arrival in the UAE. Regular tests are planned throughout the tournament.

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August 24, 2020

Pakistan set to host international squash tourney in November

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Professional Squash Association (PSA) has allowed Pakistan a window in the first half of November to host the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) International Squash Open in Islamabad. 

The event, whose main rounds will be staged at the Mushaf Ali Mir Squash Complex from November 7 to 11, is expected to attract some leading international players as well.  
The championship was originally scheduled to be held in April but it was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The mega event carries attractive prize money of $30,000 for men event while $12,000 for the women event. The main draw is of 24 places including eight seeds and two wildcards. Pakistan has so far hosted just one international squash event this year. 

“It is an encouraging sign as the PSA has agreed to allow Pakistan to host CAS Open in November following months of close down because of COVID-19. The international bodies have given the go-ahead to restart the squash activities from late September,” the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) Secretary, Group Captain Tahir Sultan, remarked.

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Zaheer Abbas, Jacques Kallis inducted in ICC Hall of Fame

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s batting great Zaheer Abbas and South Africa’s incredibly gifted all-rounder Jacques Kallis, alongwith Australian World Cup-winning women all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar, have been inducted in the coveted Hall of Fame by the International Cricket Council (ICC). 

The ICC announced the induction of the three retired greats of the game into the Hall of Fame during an absorbing show broadcast around the world via digital channels. 

Zaheer Abbas, a former Pakistan captain, was globally admired for his stylish stroke-play in the 1970s and the 1980s to be titled the Asian Bradman. He earned the honour of becoming the first batsman from Asia to score a century of centuries in first-class cricket. 

Jacques Kallis remained the leading all-round cricketer of his country upon their readmission to international arena in 1990s. Besides being a prolific top-order batsman he was also an effective fast bowler who took wickets consistently in Tests as well as One-day Internationals. 

Meanwhile the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), through a statement, has congratulated Zaheer Abbas on his induction in the ICC Hall of Fame.

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August 23, 2020

Gwadar to host international sports festival in 2021

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

In order to promote sports tourism, the Gwadar international traditional sports and games festival is planned to be held in November next year.

The sports ministers and delegates, including 400 athletes from 45 countries, will grace the festival in Gwadar. 

The games include javelin throwing, traditional archery, camel racing, belt wrestling and Chinese cultural sports. 

The government of Balochistan and the Pakistan Council for Traditional Sports and Games (PCTSG), headed by Senator Muhammad Ali Saif, has drawn up a master plan to introduce the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to the world through traditional sports. 

According to details, the PCTSG has submitted the plan in this regard to the government of Balochistan and an action was awaited soon. 

A four-member delegation led by ICTSG President and PCTSG Patron-in-Chief, Khalil Ahmad Khan, called on the Balochistan Sports Secretary, Mir Imran Gichki, in Quetta. The delegation included General Secretary PCTSG, Barrister Iftikhar, Finance Secretary, Kazim Ali Changezi, Director Media, Tariq Ali, Vice President, Khalid Shah, and Major Ali. 

The provincial Sports Secretary assured the delegation of his full cooperation informing them that the final approval would be given by Balochistan Chief Minister, Jam Kamal. 

It has been planned to invite 400 athletes from 45 countries besides international referees and other officials. Sports ministers and delegates from the participating countries are being expected to visit Gwadar to watch the traditional games. 

The festival will enhance the prestige of Pakistan and Gwadar by hosting such an event for the first time. This will be helpful in putting Gwadar on the tourist map of the world.

“This is just the beginning of sports tourism. The world would have a great opportunity to witness BRI and CPEC. The Balochistan government will soon announce an organizing committee for the event,” he added.

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August 16, 2020

Former Indian opener Chauhan dies of COVID-19

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Chetan Chauhan, a former Indian opener and Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister, died on August 16 from COVID-19 related complications after being put on life support for nearly 36 hours. He was 73. 

Famous for his solid opening partnerships with the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, he had entered politics after quitting cricket. 

He played 40 Tests for his country. Although he scored as many as 16 half centuries, a century eluded him with 97 being his highest Test score.  
He was currently serving as the Minister of Sainik Welfare, Home Guards, and Civil Security in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet. He is the second UP minister to have died of COVID-19. Earlier the state’s technical education minister Kamla Rani Varun, 62, had died after testing positive for the coronavirus.

"My elder brother Shri Chetan Chauhan has left us today after fighting a good battle. I sincerely thank everyone who had prayed for his recovery. His son Vinayak will be reaching anytime and we will then perform last rites," his younger brother Pushpendra Chauhan was quoted as saying. 

He was admitted to Sanjay Gandhi PGI hospital in Lucknow on July 12 after being testing positive for the coronavirus. His health was reported to have worsened because of kidney-related ailments and he was shifted to Medanta hospital in Gurgaon where he had a multi-organ failure on August 14 and was put on ventilator support.

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August 15, 2020

Dhoni announces retirement from international cricket

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Known for his innovation and versatility, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the most successful Indian captains of all time in limited overs cricket, chose a novel way to bring to an end all the speculations regarding his career. 

The 39-year-old Dhoni, nicknamed MS, announced his retirement from international cricket through a social media post on August 15, India’s Independence Day. 

Instead of announcing the decision to hang his boots in the presence of battery of media professionals, he took to Instagram to make the announcement, putting up a slideshow of images from his career to the soundtrack of legendary singer Mukesh on his official account. 

Although his post didn't specify it but it’s being understood that the retirement is only from international cricket as he’s set to play for the Chennai Super Kings not only in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 but may continue playing for the franchise until 2022 at least. Dhoni happens to be the only captain to lift all three ICC trophies. 

Under his leadership India clinched the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 while he led his team to victory in the 50-over World Cup in 2011 and followed it up by clinching the Champions Trophy in 2013.

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August 13, 2020

Pakistani-French company launches cricket bat

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A Pakistani sports goods company based in France has launched a new brand of cricket bat by naming it as ‘Ambassador.’ 

The CEO of the Euro King Sports, Amjad Sandhu held a meeting with Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires, M. Amjad Qazi, at the launching ceremony held at the Pakistan Embassy in Paris on August 12. The Commercial Counsellor, Moin Wani, was also present on the occasion. 

The Charge d’Affaires, speaking on the occasion, appreciated the company for launching its own brand in a sport that is most popular among Pakistanis. 

He reckoned that it would help popularize cricket in France as well as in mainland Europe, adding that it will help the Pakistani businesses also in gaining a foothold in the European sports goods market. 

The CEO of the Euro King Sports, Amjad Sandhu, informed that in addition to this professional cricket bat, his company has also introduced a tennis ball cricket bat. 

He said that this was the first cricket brand in mainland Europe for which Pakistan’s willow was being used. He also felt that cricket was becoming increasingly popular in European countries like France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland and Belgium. 

In France alone there are around 35 cricket clubs registered with the Association Francaise de Cricket (French Cricket Association). In addition to local players, immigrants from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are also members of these club teams. It may be recalled that the Pakistan Embassy in France sponsored the Jinnah Trophy, the most prestigious annual cricket tournament held in France.

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August 12, 2020

Pakistan hard pressed to save Test series despite Stokes’ absence

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By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Having lost the first Test, after dominating it for quite some time, Pakistan find themselves in a tight corner going into the second Test against England at Southampton which starts on August 13. 

Hosts England will be forced to take the field in the absence of their star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has reportedly left for New Zealand due to family reasons. 

Although Stokes didn’t contribute much with the bat in the first Test, his larger than life presence had meant a lot for his team. 

It could be an opportunity, however, for the hitherto underrated all-rounder Chris Woakes to steal limelight in the non-presence of Stokes. 

Declared Man of the Match in the closely contested Old Trafford Test, Woakes seems to have come of age both as a batsman as well as a bowler and he could enhance his reputation to become a regular member of England team in future. 

With typical ‘English’ conditions forecast for the second Test, the home team will be more than happy to hand over the new ball to the tried and trusted duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, both of them having more than 500 wickets to their credit now.

Jofra Archer’s raw pace didn’t yield the desired results in the first Test and he may be replaced by Mark Wood, who also has the ability to bowl with tremendous speed.

With Woakes raring to go as the fourth seamer, England may not even need their lone spinner Dom Bess to bowl for longer spells.

Batting is one area which will remain a cause of concern for the home side. They will be depending heavily on skipper Joe Root, who is due for some big runs. Jos Butler will be expected to deliver once more after his match winning knock at Old Trafford.

Pakistan don’t have much options to bolster their batting which let them down in the second innings of the opening Test. Opener Shan Masood’s magnificent century in the first innings was a delight to watch but the failures of other top order batsmen didn’t gladden hearts of the Pakistani supporters. 

Shadab Khan was played as a bowling all-rounder but he was under-utilized by captain Azhar Ali, whose unimaginative captaincy cost Pakistan the match on the fourth afternoon. There’s a possibility that Shadab may be replaced by left-handed Fawad Alam.

Many experts and I do strongly believe that Pakistan should opt for Sarfraz Ahmed at number six on the basis of his past record in the challenging English conditions. But it seems unlikely in the ongoing politicking and the mindset of the present team management.

It’s really strange that time and again everybody in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) down to the members of the support staff are seen mentioning Muhammad Rizwan as the first choice wicketkeeper. It’s not needed. The team could live without petty politics. The biased commentators will also be advised not to emit poison.

Instead Pakistan’s coaches and captain should be more proactive in guiding their bowlers to deliver the goods. It’s a pity that the young speed merchants like Shaheen Shah Afridi and Muhammad Naseem were not directed to test the pair of Butler and Woakes with short-pitched balls when they turned the match around by hitting the length balls with ease.

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Diversity Cup completing 15 years

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By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

International cricket has resumed, following a break caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as England is now hosting Pakistan after having contested three-Test series against the West Indies. 

Cricket in the United States of America (USA) is also expected to resume shortly in those territories where the deadly virus has been contained and life has gradually returned towards normalcy. 

The 15th edition of the Diversity Cup, regarded as one of the most sought after cricket tournaments in USA, originally planned to be held in August, is now set to be staged over the Labor Day weekend, starting from September 5 to 7 at Detroit, Michigan. 

 It’s time to celebrate its 15th edition now. Over the years, the Diversity Cup, organized by the Global Sports, has emerged one of the most popular annual cricket events of the country. 

The International Cricket Council (ICC), in the meantime, had recognized the Diversity Cup as a tournament in 2016. An average of seven to eight Test cricketers from different countries has been in action during the course of a tournament. 

Another factor contributing to the success of the Diversity Cup has been the presence of cricket greats in its events.

The likes of Greg Chappell, Mushtaq Muhammad, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Muhammad Azharuddin, Asif Iqbal and Younis Khan have graced the tournament during the last one and a half decade.

The participation of these legendary cricketers has help tremendously in adding value to the tournament which has continued to grow in stature with every passing year.

The credit for sustaining the Diversity Cup for 15 years and making it known as a major tournament belongs to the enthusiastic organizational team of the Global Sports, whose promoters have remained passionate and enthusiastic all alone.

Shahid Ahmed, an engineer by profession, has been leading the Global Sports team since its inception and it has had active members like Dr Shaukat Rasheed, Sarwat Iqbal, Faisal Sultan and Ahad Masood.

Dr Shaukat Rasheed, who is based in Toledo, Ohio, had also supported the Champions Cup Tournament. He remains a source of great motivation for the Diversity Cup organizers. 

Sarwat Iqbal and Faisal Sultan have been the Vice Presidents of the Global Sports for the past 12 and 15 years respectively.

Ahad Masood, a former cricketer, coach and organizer, is also an integral part of the setup. 

Jalaluddin, a former Test fast bowler from Pakistan and one of the highly qualified coaches, has been the Director Youth Development at the Global Sports for the last few years.

I have also been associated with the Global Sports for the past 15 years, in the capacity of Vice President, Advisor and coach. Together with Jalaluddin, I have also conducted coaching camps for young cricketers during the last few years.

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August 2, 2020

Shoaib Akhtar credits Asif Zardari for overturning five-year ban

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sensational fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, also known as the Rawalpindi Express, has credited former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, for saving his career. 

In a recent television interview, Shoaib Akhtar revealed that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), then headed by Dr Nasim Ashraf, had imposed five-year ban on him which was withdrawn on the directives of Asif Zardari, whom he considered his benefactor. 

“Asif Ali Zardari had ordered the then PCB Chairman, Dr Nasim Ashraf, to either withdraw five-year playing restrictions on him or pack up,” the Rawalpindi Express disclosed. 

Regarding the fastest ball he ever had bowled, which broke the much talked about barrier of 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, Shoaib Akhtar felt that it was prompted by the pressure and expectations by the media and the general public. 

He recalled that the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, had danced all night in joy and celebration when he had bowled his team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to victory in a match of the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

“On the contrary I have bowled Pakistan to victory in a number of matches but there had never been any appreciation,” he regretted. 

Shoaib Akhtar, acclaimed as one of the most popular cricketers of Pakistan, shared that he hasn’t made up his mind yet whether to join politic as his mother was opposed to this idea. 

He didn’t mince words in stating, however, that he could win the contest on his own as an independent candidate at any given time in elections. 

He pointed out that he remained an admirer of all politicians including Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, expressing the hope that the sitting Prime Minister (Imran Khan) manages to streer the country out of crisis.

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July 28, 2020

Cricket World Cup Super League to start on July 30

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced that top seven teams from the Super League and hosts India will qualify directly for the 2023 World Cup. 

The forthcoming ODI series between England and Ireland, beginning on July 30, will officially kick-start the Cricket World Cup Super League, the game’s governing body confirmed on July 27. 

The World Cup Super League, announced first in June 2018, was introduced alongside the Test Championship to provide context to ODI cricket by acting as a qualification pathway to determine participants for the 2023 Men's World Cup in India. 

A total of 13 teams, including Netherlands who won the ICC World Cricket League 2015-17, will feature in the Super League with the top seven teams, besides hosts India, securing direct qualification to the 2023 World Cup.

Over the course of the league, each team will play four series at home and four away, with teams awarded 10 points for a win and five for no result or tie. All Super League assignments will be three-match series although teams will be free to schedule additional games, results of which will not be considered for league points. 

The five bottom sides from the league will fight for the final two spots of the 10-team showpiece event at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, where they will  be joined by Associate countries that have progressed from the Cricket World Cup League 2 as well as the two Cricket World Cup Challenge Leagues via the Qualifier Playoff. 

The World Cup Super League was originally scheduled to begin in May 2020 and run until March 2022 before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushed back the start date to July 30. 

The Cricket World Cup League 2 series due to be hosted in Namibia in September and also involving Papua New Guinea and the United States has been postponed and will be rescheduled.

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July 27, 2020

High flying Jonty Rhodes is 51 summers old now!

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It had always been a spectacle to watch Jonty Rhodes in action. His acrobatic fielding and athletic sprinting made him one of the most sought after cricketers from South Africa after their readmission in international cricket in 1991. 

Indeed time has flown, as the high-flying Rhodes tweeted on his 51st birthday on July 27, as he received congratulatory messages from his friends and well-wishers living in different parts of the planet. 

"You not only redefined fielding in cricket but set standards that are hard to match even today. Happy birthday.my dear friend,” one of his illustrious contemporaries, Sachin Tendulkar of India, posted. 

“Hard to believe another year has flown by! Seems my days of flying are not done,” Rhodes responded while thanking the Indian batting great. 

Rhodes was also showered with such fascinating messages as ‘you are the only human being to have ever been found flying on the cricket field’ and ‘you are the inventor of Fielding in modern cricket.” 

Born on July 27, 1969, Rhodes has been regarded as one of the greatest fielders of all time and he was the first South African to take 100 catches in One-day Internationals. He is also remembered fondly for his reverse sweep shot which had brought him six delightful runs.

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