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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