February 20, 2010

Karachi Press Club honours Sohail Abbas, Mahmood Lodhi


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

As they say many great things happen by chance. Ehsan Qureshi and I had an appointment with hockey stalwart Sohail Abbas and we were preparing to leave for his residence.

Just before packing up Ehsan telephoned Sohail who picked up the call while having some spicy stuff in the nearby Burns Road whose dishes are famous worldwide for the taste and variety.

Sohail, who holds the world record of scoring the highest number of goals in international matches, promptly agreed to the idea of having our meeting at the Karachi Press Club that’s hardly 10-minute drive from the Food Street where he was dining with his friend.

Chess champion Mahmood Ahmed Lodhi and one of the respected media personalities, Ibrahim Khan, was with us when we decided to reschedule the venue of our meeting with Sohail and neither of them could muster the courage to turn down our unexpected request of accompanying us to the Press Club.

We had only 10 minutes at our disposal because that was the time Sohail needed to reach there. In this period I called Alauddin Khanzada, more famous as A H Khanzada, Honorary Secretary, Karachi Press Club, to make quick arrangements. He consumed probably less time than Sohail takes for hitting a short corner in giving his consent.

As the luck would have it our car and that of Sohail arrived the Press Club around the same time. The hockey legend and the chess champion were accorded the respect and protocol they thoroughly deserved.

The members of the Press Club present on the occasion were thrilled to meet two of the leading sportsmen of the country. The informal session in the dining room was followed by a formal presentation ceremony in the Committee Room upstairs.

It was quite extraordinary how swiftly A H Khanzada had made the arrangements. Quite a few senior journalists, office bearers of the club and the Karachi Union of Journalists sat around the two sports icons.

Sports is not been the beat or forte of A H Khanzada but the manner in which he introduced both the sporting legends reflected his depth of general knowledge. In his welcome speech he showered them with praise for their accomplishments.

On behalf of the Karachi Press Club he wished the national hockey team the best of luck in the upcoming World Cup Tournament to be held in New Delhi from February 28. He expressed the hope that Sohail will reproduce his Midas touch to win the laurels for the country.

A H Khanzada also appreciated the achievements of International Master Mahmood in the field of chess, congratulating him on being the national champion for a record number of times.

Veteran sports journalist, A.Majid Khan, presented the Ajrak, a traditional gift from the people of Sindh, to Sohail Abbas while another seasoned journalist, Arshad Shami, did the honours to Mahmood Lodhi.

Both Sohail Abbas and Mahmood Lodhi acknowledged the recognition from the Karachi Press Club and they looked forward to the support of the media in accomplishing the mutual objective of promoting sporting culture in the society.

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ICC recognizes Asoka de Silva’s century of ODIs


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka was recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for having become only the 12th umpire to reach the milestone of standing in 100 One-day Internationals (ODIs).

He had completed his century when he stood in the fifth ODI between Australia and Pakistan in Perth on January 31. His feat, however, was acknowledged officially on February 19 when the ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat presented him a crystal plaque before the start of the Twenty20 International between Pakistan and England at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai Sports City.

“I am humbled and honoured to have completed a century of ODIs as an umpire. When I look at the umpires who are on this list, it makes me really proud as the group includes some of the most iconic names of this noble profession,” de Silva, having played international cricket for seven years, remarked.

He appeared in 10 Tests and 28 One-day Internationals but he had ordinary record as a leg-spinner and a lower-order batsman. He could claim only eight Tests at a very high cost and his performance in the ODIs was only marginally better. But he has made it big as an umpire.

“It would have been nice to have played more and therefore been more successful at international cricket but umpiring is another way of experiencing our great game while my cricketing background has helped me immensely in my umpiring career,” he observed.

“It has been a fascinating journey so far as I have been privileged to be part of a very strong, committed and professional group of umpires. And to stand in matches that feature the best cricketers of this era, is something I love and thoroughly enjoy,” the Sri Lankan umpire added.

He was inducted into the elite panel along with Steve Davis of Australia in April 2008 after having previously served on the panel between 2002 and 2004. While de Silva has umpired in 12 Tests and 24 ODIs since his return to the panel, Davis is just six ODIs away from becoming the fourth Australian and 13th overall to stand in 100 ODIs.

Rudi Koertsen of South Africa holds the distinction of having umpired in the highest number of ODIs (202) while Steve Bucknor of the West Indies stood in 181 ODIs. The late David Shepherd of England is next on the list having umpired in 172 games.

The Australian duo of Daryl Harper (161) and Simon Taufel (147) is expected to complete double century in not distant future as does Billy Bowden of New Zealand having already stood in 141 ODIs.

Australia’s Darrell Hair performed duties in 139 ODIs with Pakistan’s Aleem Dar not very far behind having umpired in 127 one-dayers. Russell Tiffin of Zimbabwe (111), David Orchard of South Africa (107) and Steve Dunn of New Zealand (100) had also completed century of ODIs as an umpire before de Silva did it earlier this year.

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