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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