September 30, 2012

Kohli’s purple patch keeps India afloat in ICC World Twenty20 2012


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Virat Kohli has continued showing maturity beyond his age and this 23-year-old right-handed batsman was chiefly responsible in keeping India afloat in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 by defeating arch-rivals Pakistan by a convincing margin of eight wickets in Colombo on September 30. 

It was a do-or-die match for India, who had been whacked by Australia in their previous outing only a couple of days ago. 

Pakistan, on the other hand, were happily placed, having come from behind to sneak a win over South Africa in their opening Super Eight match. 

The pressure was more, if not total, on India as they had to perform or go back home early. They were hard pressed to go out and manufacture a win from somewhere against an opponent having history of staging a comeback from the brink of disaster. 

The Indians have had the knack of failing against Pakistan in the past and it’s in this background they were believed to be under the hammer when they took the field. 

India did become the favourites, however, by bowling Pakistan out for 128 in 19.4 overs and the target of 129 in 20 overs was not expected to pose much threat for their batting-order. 

But having seen India collapse dramatically there were not many people who reckoned that the chase would be a smooth one. The game was considered open because Pakistan could never have been taken lightly, even while defending a modest total. 

The drama began as soon as the Indian reply began. Gautam Gambhir, having the reputation of playing spin better than many, fell to Pakistan’s most inexperienced spinner, Raza Hasan, for a first-ball duck.

Virender Sehwag, staging a comeback in the playing eleven, was not in his elements either. It all depended on a man called Kohli, who walked to the crease in the very first over of the match. 

He held the key to the match and he proved why by playing another superb knock that not only allowed his team to win the match comprehensively but it also shielded his nervy teammates who were more likely to struggle if needed to come in the middle. 

The likes of Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who were due to come in next, must have heaved a sigh of relief when Kohli, in the company of Yuvraj Singh, knocked off the runs. 

It was a rare sight of India defeating Pakistan in a cricket match without any problems in the final moments. Kohli and Yuvraj didn’t do anything silly to finish the match in style. 

The winning run was also just a deflection towards leg side. Kohli has rescued India once more and given his team yet another lifeline. 

The tournament has become open for them once more. If their spinners continue bowling as they did against Pakistan they should face little problems in taming the struggling South Africans in their last Super Eight game.

readmore »»

September 27, 2012

NBP Sports Complex becomes newest snooker venue


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex, located here in Karachi’s posh area of Clifton right at the edge of the Arabian Sea, is set to become the newest cue sports venue by hosting the Langnese 4th Snooker Cup Ranking Tournament 2012 getting underway on September 30.

The Karachi Club, the Karachi Gymkhana and the Haji Abdullah Haroon Muslim Gymkhana have been the oldest venues for the national snooker tournaments in the city while the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Sports Complex, Southend Club and Defence Authority Creek Club have also hosted a few events in the recent past. 

The NBP Sports Complex, spread over 5.5 acres of land, houses a cricket ground with pavilion, cricket academy, international standard squash courts, indoor tennis and badminton courts, covered swimming pool, snooker and table tennis halls besides a well-equipped health club.

Iqbal Qasim, a former Test left-arm spinner who is currently chairman of cricket's national selection committee, has played the pivotal in its development as the sports and CSR divisional chief of the NBP. 

Since its inception the NBP Sports Complex has been more famous for hosting cricket activities with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) having approved the ground as a venue for first-class tournaments. 

Now the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), by scheduling the Langnese 4th Snooker Cup Ranking Tournament 2012 at the NBP Sports Complex from September 30 to October 6, has added it in the list of venues for the national ranking snooker events.

The details about the seven-day tournament, to be contested by the top 24 cueists of the country, were unveiled by Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, in a media briefing held at the Karachi Gymkhana on September 26. 

Anjum Nisar, ex-President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), and Managing Director, Anjum Asim & Company, the sponsors of the event, was also present on the occasion alongwith the NBP officials, Anwar Khan and Ghulam Mohammad Khan. 

The tournament offers prize money of Rs 165,000 with the winner to take home Rs 70,000 and the runner-up to collect Rs 40,000 each. The losing semifinalists will be getting Rs 15,000 each while the losing quarter-finalists will be receiving Rs 5,000 each. The highest break award carries a purse of Rs 5,000.

The participating cueists have been divided equally in four groups which will allow them to play five league matches. The knockout phase will start with the quarter-finals. 

 Top seed and defending champion Mohammad Asif has been placed in Group A alongwith eighth seed Sharjeel Mahmood, Abdul Sattar, Mohammad Imran, Umair Alam and Bilawal Agha whilesecond seed Asjad Iqbal and seventh seed Sohail Shahzad have been drawn in Group B in the company of Mohammad Majid, Vishan Gir, Mohammad Afzal and Mohammad Ishtiaq. 

Third seed Sultan Mohammad and sixth seed Mohammad Sajjad feature in Group C with the likes of Shahid Aftab, Imran Shahzad, Abu Saim and Mohammad while the Group D contains fourth seed Khurram Hussain Agha and fifth seed Shehram Changezi besides Mohammad Javed, Naveen Kumar Perwani, Mohammad Yousuf and Mohammad Nazir. 

It will be the fourth and final national ranking competition of the year and the top two ranked cueists will be representing the country in the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2012 to be staged in Sofia, Bulgaria, from November 24 to December 2.

readmore »»

September 25, 2012

Pathetic rules spoil ICC World Twenty20 2012


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The first round matches of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 have ended on September 25 and not surprisingly the unseeded quartet of Afghanistan, Ireland, Kenya and Bangladesh have been eliminated from the competition. 

It are the draws of the Super Eight that seem to be spoiling the party in Sri Lanka where the cricket enthusiasts from different parts of the world have assembled to support their teams besides enjoying the various tourist attractions in the picturesque country. 

It was acceptable to form the groups for the preliminary round on the basis of the rankings prior to the event but to follow the same principle for the subsequent two groups for the Super Eight made little or no sense. 

Why should India be considered A2 when they overwhelmed the defending champions, England, declared A1 in their league outing? Similarly why South Africa should be taking the runners-up spot (C2) after having defeated Sri Lanka (C1)? 

As a result of this horrible ruling, the quartet of India, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, who emerged champions in Groups A, B, C and D respectively, find themselves in the same group for the Super Eight. 

Isn’t it pathetic that all the four group champions will feature in the same group while the rival group will only be having the runners-up? Won’t it be an easier ride for England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand constituting the Group 2? 

The same combination of teams may still have formed the two groups for the Super Eight even with the traditional format but in that case neither of the outfits would have felt hard done by the rules or by the compromises made by the administrators. 

The teams faring well in the preliminary rounds are always offered some kind of incentive in the form of weaker opponents in the following rounds but here the stronger sides are paying the price for the follies of the others. 

I am sure the tournament would have become much more interesting without the pre-seeding for the Super Eight. This looks an uneven ruling although it does provide a level of convenience to the fans for booking their hotel rooms and airlines seats in advance. 

But doesn’t it take away the element of suspense from the field of play? T20 is the shortest and hence the funniest of all formats and this is not meant to suggest that the quartet of England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand didn’t deserve to be in the Super Eight. 

It may not come as a major surprise if two of them go on to make the final. But the sad part is that two of the four fancied sides or one can say those enjoying better form than others would be eliminated before the semifinals. 

It’s possible that a couple of teams, having remained undefeated in the first round, may be knocked out of the competition by losing just one of their three Super Eight games and those having faltered more than once could go on to clinch the trophy.

readmore »»

September 16, 2012

KMC-PBSA sign MoU to build snooker academy


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Upon the advice of the Governor of Sindh, Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has provided a piece of land to the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) to let them develop a snooker academy here at the junction of Kashmir Road and New M A Jinnah Road.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard with Mohammad Hussain Syed, Administrator, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), at the Karachi Gymkhana on September 15, recorded his appreciation for the Governor of Sindh for the pivotal role in getting the plot allotted for the snooker academy. 

The PBSA President also acknowledged the consistent support of Ahmed Chinoy, Chief of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), who counter-signed the MoU as a witness, for overcoming red-tape. 

 Rehan Khan, Senior Director, Culture and Sports, KMC, who signed as the other witness to the MoU, was also recognized for having extended cooperation to the PBSA.

Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, was also present on the occasion alongwith Ali Rahim, President, Karachi Gymkhana, and Anjum Nisar, ex-President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI). 

A large number of office-bearers and members of the PBSA attended the signing ceremony but one notable gentleman missing out was none other Ali Asghar Valika, who led the Association with distinction for nearly two decades, and a snooker academy was a part of his own vision. 

Speaking on the occasion Mohammad Hussain Syed, Administrator, KMC, disclosed that a plot measuring around 2,250 square yards has been allotted to the PBSA for a period of 25 years, in pursuance of its policy of public-private partnership, and the lease would be extendable at the end of the stipulated period. 

“Besides carrying on the infrastructure projects in the city, the KMC is fulfilling its responsibility of creating facilities for the people for sports, recreation and entertainment. The snooker academy would be greatly helpful in polishing the skills of Karachi’s cueists in particular,” he believed.

Mohammad Hussain Syed, seeking the support of the private sector in creating more facilities for the people of Karachi, advised the PBSA officials to run the snooker academy on self-sustaining basis in the larger interest of the sport. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, revealed that the snooker academy will be built in two phases with the construction of a couple halls to be carried out in the initial phase with the emphasis of having a venue of its own for the national ranking competitions. 

“We will be constructing two halls, one of them to be used for organizing championship matches and the other one to be utilized for holding practice matches. In the second phase we plan for vertical expansion by building 10 to 12 rooms upstairs where the outstanding cueists would be lodged,” he stated. 

“Once we get the site plans we will have the academy complex designed. The costs to be incurred on construction will only be known when the drawings are approved. We have a few friends who, considering it a national cause, are willing to contribute for the project as it will definitely help in raising standard of snooker and creating more medal-winning opportunities for the nation,” Alamgir Shaikh added.

readmore »»

September 9, 2012

Tendulkar should go now for sake of Indian cricket


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

There has been a fierce debate lately if Sachin Tendulkar should retire immediately, following his dismal performance in the recently concluded Test series against New Zealand at home, or should he continue playing until he himself decides to hang his boots.

The debate about Tendulkar’s retirement is nothing new but there’s some difference for sure now. Unlike the past it are the Indian cricket fans, not only the media or the former greats, who desire the holder of so many world records to quit the game now. 

I think they have a point now. The future of the Indian cricket should not be compromised on sentimental grounds. Tendulkar, who will turn 40 later in the season, has had enough. 

He should follow the example of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman both of whom have left the scene voluntarily, after having won more matches for their country in lesser outings than Tendulkar. 

Tendulkar holds many records which are unlikely to be broken. He has far too many runs in Tests as well as One-day Internationals than any other individual in either format. So is the case in the number of centuries.

Not meant to take any credit away from him but in comparison Dravid and Laxman were instrumental in winning more matches for India than Tendulkar has been able to do in an international career in the third decade now. 

He has been playing international cricket since 1989-90 while Dravid and Laxman entered the arena much later. 

The spotlight had been on Tendulkar due to his awesome frequency of runs and centuries but how many of them helped the cause of his team remained debatable. 

Tendulkar’s technique and temperament allowed him to stage a forceful comeback after odd lean patches. But his inability to contribute for the team in the crunch situations disappointed his fans in particular. He was unable to steer his struggling side to safety in the last away series in England and Australia where India were defeated in all eight Tests despite his presence.

That trend continues even today. India appear more likely to win a game when he doesn’t fire rather than the ones in which he scores heavily. 

The recent two-Test series against New Zealand was just an addition to that list. He failed in both the Test matches with India emerging triumphant at Hyderabad and Bangalore. 

India have eight more home Tests to play this season, four each against England and Australia. If he doesn’t step down voluntarily, I don’t think the selectors would be able to drop him on the basis of his huge reputation. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may be the most powerful body in the business but even they don’t seem to be having the muscles of thinking in terms of replacing Tendulkar with a promising youngster in the home Tests. 

Tendulkar could be good enough to score some runs in home conditions but to expect him to do it in the challenging environment of South Africa and other countries where the pace and bounce demand quick reflexes, besides technique, is too big a risk.

readmore »»

Recent Posts