October 27, 2010

South Africa draw first blood unconvincingly


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Can you imagine chasing a target of exactly run a ball for the entire length of a T20innings on the flattest of pitches in conditions near perfect for batting with so much of hassles and uncertainties?

The South Africans certainly won the first Twenty20 International against Pakistan by six wickets in the end with quite a few deliveries left in Abhu Dhabi on October 26 but it wasn’t the kind of chase that would have lifted their spirits.

The only way Pakistan could have won the match, after being dismissed for 119, was to bowl South Africa out. That looked very much a possibility when South Africa had crashed to 26 for three after 5.1 overs.

It was really amazing to find the South African top-order looking like novices against a bowling attack that wasn’t high in confidence either. Shoaib Akhtar, whose fitness always remains a cause of concern, was spearheading the attack after sometime and Abdul Razzaq was entrusted with the new ball a bit surprisingly.

Neither of them would have been operating with the new ball if Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer had been there. Yet the credit goes to the South African batsmen to have kept the contest alive until the very end.

If the likes of Graeme Smith, Loots Bosman and A B de Villiers were found demanding in conditions devoid of any pressure then one can understand what their fate could be in a closer or more significant match.

That explains why the South Africans have been proving as chokers in nearly every major event. They have had a better record as far as bilateral series are concerned but the uncertain manner in which they overcame Pakistan while chasing the easiest of targets leaves a question mark about their abilities.

The pace of Lonwabo Tsotsobe and the spin of Johan Botha combined excellently to send Pakistan crashing to 119 all out inside 20 overs. It’s not often that any team gets bowled out in T20 game but you can never rule out such possibilities when experimentations are being carried out rather senselessly.

Pakistan’s batting has let them down on so many occasions and the kind of combination they fielded in the opening game there’s little doubt that a lot needs to be done to enhance their efficiency.

South Africa remained on top of the Pakistan batsmen and even Shahid Afridi’s typically agricultural shots didn’t derail them. The returning Misbah-ul-Haq struggled to get his timing right and there was not much he could have done against a balanced and potent bowling attack.

The match was won and lost in the first session and there were very few people who thought in terms of Pakistan staging a comeback. The failure of Smith, Bosman and de Villiers prevented the match from becoming a totally one-sided affair.

The 66-run fourth wicket partnership between Colin Ingram and JP Duminy brought the South Africans back in control and even the dismissal of the latter couldn’t change the course of the proceedings.

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Naqvi brothers excel in Sindh Swimming


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Brothers Mazhar Naqvi and Mustafa Naqvi came up with standout performance to guide the Karachi Club to title victory in the 50th Sindh Swimming Championship 2010 staged at the Karachi Gymkhana.

The Naqvi brothers displayed their brilliants skills at the Karachi Gymkhana Swimming Pool which brought to an end the 15-year-old dominance of the famous Habib Public School.

The teenaged Mazhar in particular was absolutely brilliant grabbing as many as seven gold medals. He emerged triumphant in 50, 100, 200 freestyle and 50,100, 200 meter in open category besides being a component of the winning 4x100 Relay medley relay. He was the unanimous choice for the award of the province's best men swimmer.

Mazhar, who also broke a few long-standing records, was easily the most versatile all-round swimmer in the two-day gala and was adjudged the best swimmer in the open category. He broke as many as four records during the course of the championship held over the weekend.

"My first ambition is to win a gold medal in men nationals in freestyle and later desire to represent Pakistan in South Asian Games and Asian Games," Mazhar, a 17-year-old student of Lecole School of Advance Studies, remarked after his terrific performance.

He complimented his rival and friend Aneeq Anwar for his outstanding performances in the competition.

"We are desirous of improving the overall standard of Sindh province in swimming. We are also eager to make our presence felt in a big way at the national level,” Mazhar added.

Deriving inspiration from his elder brother, Mustafa stole the limelight in the Under-16 age category by grabbing as many as four gold and seven silver medals. He won the gold in 50, 100 meter butterfly 200 meter freestyle and 50-meter breast stroke.

Mazhar and Mustufa faced some challenge from the immensely talented Aneeq Anwar, who also displayed superb performance in open as well as Under-16 contest. Aneeq and Mustafa were jointly declared the best swimmer in U-16 competition.

Aneeq, a student of Defence Public School, pocketed five gold medals and as many silver medals to also emerge as one of the stars of the championship.

Karachi Club dominated the event as they accumulated 198 points to lead over 300 swimmers contest. Karachi Grammar School secured second position with an aggregate of 167 points pushing the holders Habib Pubic School to the third position with a tally of 139 points.

Mazhar Naqvi (Open), Aneeq Anwar and Mustufa Naqvi (U-16), Saad Amin (U-12), Muhammad Bilal Qasim (U-14), Reza Munir (U-10) and Mirshah Pasha (U-8) were declared as the best swimmers in their respective categories.

Member National Assembly and famous television personality, Khushbakhat Shujaat, was the chief guest in the presentation ceremony and she distributed medals and trophies among the outstanding performers.

The President of the Karachi Gymkhana, Younus Rizwani, was also present on the occasion alongwith the top officials of the Sindh Swimming Association, Shahbaz Qureshi and Mohammad Ali Shishmahal.

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