July 31, 2011

Dreamworld Cue Sports Championships 2011 conclude


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Dreamworld Resort & Golf Club, located on the outskirts of Karachi in the vicinity of the Northern Bypass, remains a cherished destination for thousands of its members and many more who come to know about it from different sources.

The resort offers a lot of recreational facilities to prompt the members to visit it on a regular basis and as usual there’s greater buzz and activity during the months of June of July when the majority of the educational institutions of the metropolis is closed and the families are looking for avenues to keep their kids and young children entertained.

The Dreamworld Cue Sports Championships were launched more than a decade ago during the summer months. They have been attracting good crowds since inception and it remains one of the showpiece events in their calendar. More people have come to know about it because of its extensive media coverage during the last few years.

The finals of the 12th Dreamworld Cue Sports Championships 2011 were held on July 24 and not surprisingly there was excitement in the air and the participants as well as their supporters were enthusiastic around the Billiards Parlour.

Despite the uncertain law and order situation of the city during this period the participation was to the satisfaction of the organizers and there were not too many walkovers in the initial stages.

In fact the city situation was far from normal when the 12th Dreamworld Cue Sports Festival 2011 concluded with the prize distribution ceremony soon after the conclusion of the finals. The environment at the resort remained electric but obviously returning to homes quickly was already at the back of their minds when the function commenced.

The popular figure of Shahid Nazir Minhas, one of the top ranked cueists of the country in the recent past, retained his snooker title successfully but was dethroned in the Pool masters event.

The tall and strongly built Shahid, who was active in the national circuit until a few years ago, continued to dominate the snooker tournament while Umar Saleem proved his mettle by claiming the Pool masters title.

Shahid retained the snooker trophy by whipping Rashid Habib 4-1 in the final with the frame scores of 68-60, 56043, 27-50, 84-25, 83-4. In the semifinals Shahid had blanked Ahsan Ahmed in straight frames with the scores of 68-31, 79-42, 80-21 while Rashid meted out similar treatment to Mohammad Zohaib with the scores being 41-30, 63-23, 63-38.

In the Pool masters semifinal defending champion Shahid was stunned by Umar Ahmed 2-5. Umar Saleem, who had prevailed over Rashid Habib 5-3 in the other semifinal, surprised Umar Ahmed in the final 5-3.

Fahim Iqbal won the Pool Amateurs title by whipping Hasan Aslam 3-1 in the final. In the semifinals Fahim had overpowered Ali Ahmed 4-2 while Hasan edged out Faizan Ahmed 4-3.

S G M Asim emerged triumphant in the Pool Seniors competition as he outclassed Aslam Qamar 4-2 in the final. In the semifinals Asim had outwitted Abdul Rauf 4-3 and Aslam defeated Saud Hasan by the same margin. Sadia clinched the Pool Ladies trophy by beating Sania 2-1 in the final.

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July 27, 2011

KG Ramazan Cricket Festival 2011 off to controversial start


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The 26th edition of the Karachi Gymkhana Ramazan Festival Cricket Tournament 2011 for the Bahria Town Trophy got off to a nightmarish start with far too many weaknesses of the organizers brought to light in the media briefing on July 26.

So fierce was the question-answer session following the details unveiled by Tournament Directors, Iqbal Umar and Mian Azmat Hussain, at the Gymkhana’s Banquet Hall that the high points of the event receded in the background for a while.

Former Test wicketkeeper-batsman, Saleem Yousuf, now Convener Sports and Chairman Tournament Committee, was at the centre of criticism for not having taken out draws of the upcoming event.

One of the Past Presidents of the Karachi Gymkhana, Razzaq Bengali, who was sitting with the audience in the front row, stood up and advised the movers and shakers of the tournament to take note of the loopholes pointed out by the media. His move was clapped and appreciated.

Ali Rahim, President, Karachi Gumkhana, realized the gravity of the situation and he took a decision on the spur of the moment to have the draws taken out in front of the media corps right there.

According to the draws, that were openly done and duly authenticated by the officials of the Karachi Gymkhana as well as the representatives of media, defending champions Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) has been placed in the Group B in the company of Advance Telecom, Dubai Islamic Bank and Karachi Stars while the last year’s runners-up, Omar Cricket Club, features in the Group A along with Dollar East, Karachi Gymkhana Blues and Brothers Cricket Club.

Last year’s semifinalist, Vital Five Club has been drawn in the Group C along with Fazal-ur-Rahman Sports, AO Cricket Club and Medicam while Tapal Cricket Club, who also ended as semifinalists last year, is placed in the Group D along with Karachi Gymkhana Whites, Ali Sports and Bahria Town.

The tournament was formally inaugurated by Zain Malik, Director, Bahria Town, in the presence of Prof Siraj-ul-Islam Bokhari, President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), and Gymkhana officials, Ali Rahim, Iqbal Umar, Jahangir Moghul, Mian Azmat Hussain and Saleem Yousuf.

In his opening remarks, Iqbal Umar, Tournament Director and a former President of the Karachi Gymkhana, talked about the history of the Ramazan Festival Cricket Tournament which has been held every year since its launch in 1986. He described it as one of the leading tournaments of the country, having discovered many brilliant youngsters.

Mian Azmat Hussain, whose own team Mian Azmat Professionals will be absenting once more after having won the tournament on the highest number of occasions, disclosed that the semifinals and the final of will be telecast live on a private channel.

Ali Rahim, President, Karachi Gymkhana, announced that the tournament, which will be getting underway on the first day of the Holy month of Ramazan, carries enhanced prize money of Rs 825,000 with the winners to take home Rs 400,000 and the runners-up to collect Rs 200,000.

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July 21, 2011

China lauded for winning Snooker World Cup 2011


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) have expressed immense delight at the Chinese victory in the just concluded PTT-EGAT Snooker World Cup 2011 at the Bangkok Convention Centre in Thailand.

“China have made the whole continent proud by winning the World Cup in the presence of the European giants. Their sensational victory augurs well for the future of the sport in the continent in general and their country in particular, Ali Asghar Valika, Executive Vice President, ACBS, remarked in an interview in Karachi upon his arrival from Bangkok.

The Chinese duo of Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo completed a 4-2 victory over the Northern Ireland pair of Mark Allen and Gerard Greene in the final to pocket the trophy.

“This is the first time China have ever won the title and the Asian countries have a right to celebrate their accomplishment. They played superbly throughout the event and deserved the glory,” Asghar Valika, who was in Bangkok to witness the event,” observed.

The Chinese cueists were also understandably elated by with their side's achievement. "When the last World Cup was held I was nine and had only just picked up my first cue a few months before. I'm very proud of China,” the smiling Ding Junhui stated.

"We are the best two players from China and we are proud to win the World Cup. You don't get many chances to play in this tournament and this is the first time I've played in it but I hope I can play in this more times and win more times,” he added.

The breaks of 84 and 46 helped China move into a 3-0 lead in the final but a 115 from Greene in the fourth and 69 from Allen in the fifth made it 3-2 but Ding and Liang's effort of 89 in the doubles saw them lift the trophy and collect the $200,000.

"We were up against it right from the start and in the first two frames China played flawless snooker and we didn't have a chance. It was just about digging in and staying in the match and we managed to win two frames. But they played better snooker on the day so they probably deserved to win. It's disappointing but we found ourselves 2-0 down through no fault of our own,” Ireland’s Mark Allen conceded.

Pakistan had narrowly failed to qualify fir the quarter-finals despite having shocked Republic of Ireland in the opening game and overpowering Egypt 3-2 in their last league outing.

The youthful Pakistan duo of Shahid Aftab and Mohammad Sajjad came very close to creating the sensation of claiming a quarter-final spot at the expense of one of the European giants.

In the end, they had to settle with third place in the Group A, falling behind top seeded Wales and Republic of Ireland but finishing ahead of Germany and Egypt. Wales finished undefeated with 14 points while Republic of Ireland, despite losing to Pakistan in the opening match, aggregated 11 points with Pakistan ending up with 10 points.

Pakistan needed a bigger than 3-2 victory over Egypt to press home the advantage. They could have still sneaked into the quarters if leaders Wales hammered their rivals by 5-0 or 4-1 but the Irish duo of Ken Doherty, a former world champion, and Fergal O'Brien managed to snatch two frames while losing eventually to their Welsh rivals, Mark Williams and Mathew Stevens.

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July 13, 2011

India’s abandoned chase raises eyebrows again


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Will you believe it that the most potent batting side of the world refused to chase down a target of around four runs an over on the friendliest of pitches against a flattened bowling attack.

Once more the Indians lived upto the reputation of following a suspected script rather than playing their natural game. The match was in their bag but they were not prepared to take it. Strange, isn’t it?

India had never won more than just one Test match in a series in the Caribbean and they were ideally placed to double the lead in the third and final Test. The game was in their kitty all the way until they decided to shut the door themselves and stage a walkout much to the amusement of literally every follower of the game.

The face expression and body language of the West Indian skipper, Darren Sammy, summed it all when umpire Asad Rauf inquired him if he agreed to calling off the game before the start of the 15 mandatory overs of the final hour.

Sammy couldn’t believe his luck nor did he hide emotions when informed that the Indians were willing to walk off. Obviously there was no way any team would have abandoned the chase in the manner the Indians did. Even Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would have gone for it and in all probability the target would have been achieved.

There was plenty to suggest on the last two days of the Dominica Test that the Indians had lost the intensity all of a sudden. More than anything they are likely to have received some ‘advice’ from their administrators not to go for it. Otherwise Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men would never let the West Indies off the hook as they did.

India, the number one team of the world, could have never done the rubbish things they did. Allowing Kirk Edwards and Shivnaraine Chanderpaul to score centuries in the given circumstances was a shame.

"Shame on India, Black day for cricket," was indeed a comment well deserved after calling off the game needing 86 runs off 90 balls with seven wickets in hand.

Fire must have been raging in India where millions of fans had sacrificed their night’s sleep in anticipation of a rare overseas Test victory. But they were denied the pleasure, at whose behest they might never know.

Duncan Fletcher, India's coach, was sent it to tackle the media and defend the debacle once the match was over. This is one duty he will be needed to perform while getting hefty fees and lavish lifestyle that comes with the package. He will be required to cover up the sins of those movers and shakers who are ruling the stage at the moment.

“Once it got to four or five runs per over we were struggling to score. We were struggling to score three runs per over. The side decided it was difficult to get those runs and thought what's the point in going there and ending up maybe with just one side able to win it" was an explanation nobody cared to believe. It was laughing stock. Fletcher should be having plenty of such fun in future as well.

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July 11, 2011

Nawab Yousuf Talpur greets BFAME champions


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Nawab Mohammad Yousuf Talpur, President, Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), and Member National Assembly (MNA), hosted a dinner-reception he hosted in the honour of the BFAME champions at his residence in Karachi recently.

It turned out to be a wonderful get-together in which Nawab Yousuf Talpur, having taken over as the chief of the PBF just a few months ago, also had informal chat with the sports scribes covering the mind sport of bridge for a long time.

It was his first proper interaction with the bridge journalists after becoming the PBF President, although he had been speaking to them individually in the past as well.

He disclosed that Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani will soon be meeting the victorious national bridge team, who came up with stunning performance to annex the 16th Bridge Federation of Asia and Middle East (BFAME) Championship in Chennai, India, last month.

Rashid-ul-Ghazi, Tahseen Gheewala, Tahir Masood, Javed Ahmed Miran, Syed Hassan Jawwad and Hasan Askari with Tariq Rasheed Khan being non-playing captain and manager, it may be recalled, had prevailed over arch-rivals India to recapture the crown after 12 years.

“The Prime Minister has also approved a summary in which substantial funds have been allocated to the PBF for taking care of the costs to be incurred for sending our national team to the 2011 Bermuda Bowl World Championship to be staged at Veldhoven, the Netherlands, in October,” Nawab Yousuf Talpur revealed.

“The Prime Minister has congratulated each and every member of the team for having produced sensational performance to win the zonal title. Being preoccupied in the budget sessions presently, he has expressed the desire to meet the squad that brought home the glory in the very near future,” the PBF President added.

Nawab Yousuf Talpur, having succeeded Tariq Rasheed Khan, who retired after a second term at office, expressed his confidence over securing more governmental funds for the cash-starved federation.

He also hinted at the possibilities of holding an international tournament in Karachi later this year, provided the foreign teams agreed to come over for a few days to Pakistan.

“Let the mind sport of bridge benefit by my presence in the PBF. We have to put together our resources to generate funds and have a lot of activity. We have some plans which will soon be implemented,” he announced.

Tariq Rasheed Khan, who brought with him the trophy his team won in Chennai, shared the experiences there and described the tournament as a well organized one, crediting the hosts for the hospitality.

He attributed the success in Chennai to teamwork and looked forward to carrying the momentum to Veldhoven. He also acknowledged the support of the legendary Zia Mahmood that helped in motivating the team during the BFAME Championship.

With the sole exception of Javed Ahmed Miran, who’s presently out of country, all the other members of the victorious outfit attended the reception alongwith the PBF officials, Azwer-ul-Haq and Masood Mazhar and bridge stalwarts, Parvez Mirza and Shaheen Iqbal.

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