March 10, 2012

Jubilee Insurance offers to sponsor Asian Snooker Championship


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, has announced that his company, having become the major sponsors of snooker in Pakistan for the last five years, was willing to support the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) in holding international snooker competitions in the country in future

Speaking as the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony of the Jubilee Insurance 7-Nation International Snooker Championship 2012, at Hotel Pearl Continental on March 9, he expressed his delight at the revival of international snooker in the country and offered sponsorship support to the PBSA in hosting future events.

He delivered a crisp and compact speech on the occasion in which he briefly threw light on all aspects of the game, mentioned the ingredients of a successful event.

Tahir Ahmed, along Javed Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee Life Insurance, presented a purse of US$2,000 alongwith the winner’s trophy to Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was awarded while runner-up Hossein Vafaei Ayouri of Iran collected a reward of US$1,000. Mohammad Asif of Pakistan clinched the prize of US$100 for registering the highest break of the six-day championship.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, took his time in the welcome address making a mention of people who had extended support to him in organizing the event. While seeking the affiliation of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) without further delay, he thanked the old friends of the sport as well, making a special mention of S M Muneer, Shahid Ahmad Khan and Aqeel Karim Dhedi.

He also announced that his association planned to bid for the next year’s Asian Snooker Championship.

Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hasan, President, POA, stated on the occasion that the PBSA would be granted affiliation of the national Olympic body soon, upon the completion of some formalities.

Mohammad El Kammah, Secretary General, International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) and President, Egyptian Billiards & Snooker Association (EBSA), expressed the hope that Pakistan would be able to play host to the Asian Championship as well as the World Championship in not too distant future.

S M Muneer, a former President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), who played a key role in facilitating the participation of the Indian cueists in the championship by pursuing the matter with the Interior Ministry, was confident that international sports events will now be organized on a regular basis in the country.

Shahid Ahmad Khan, who was one of the architects of bringing international snooker to Pakistan with the mega events like the Asian Championship in 1991 and the World Championship in 1993, was recognized by the PBSA for his contributions.

There were far too many speeches and the presentation of souvenirs in the crowded ceremony that lasted more than half an hour. It was also being telecast live and there were quite a few organizers and socialites queued up around the arena.

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Un-Nooh edges out Ayouri in epic final between world champions


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

What an extraordinary final it turned out be between two world champions! Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, a former world champion, fought back magnificently to overpower Hossein Vafaei Ayouri of Iran, the reigning world champion, in the final of the Jubilee Insurance 7-Nation International Snooker Championship 2012 at Hotel Pearl Continental, Karachi on March 9.

Un-Nooh, cool like a cucumber, didn’t panic even after losing the first four frames in the best of 13 encounter and rallied back to win it 7-6 with the scores of 61-83, 44-80, 0-75, 28-69, 59-28, 57-54, 52-65, 80-50, 78-30, 19-87, 76-42, 91-36, 92-0.

The spectators, not large in number though, could not have asked for a more thrilling contest between the top two cueists of the event having made there without losing any match. The organizers, Jubilee General Insurance, could not have desired a more befitting end to an interesting championship that has marked the revival of sporting activities in Pakistan.

Although none of the Pakistanis managed to force their way into the final, it was thoroughly enjoyed by the people watching the action at the five-star hotel and many more who viewed it on television as it was being telecast live.

Un-Nooh, 26, having looked the most accomplished cueist in the six-day competition lived up to the billing. He had turned professional after winning the world amateur crown in 2008 and he showed why he’s rated so highly. He came back so strongly after being unable to contain the Iranian teenager in the first four frames.

The 17-year-old Ayouri, on the other hand, made some unforced errors which cost him the game after being in the driving seat. He came up with much improved performance, though, than what he had done while defeating Pakistan’s Mohammad Sajjad in the semifinals the other day.

He succeeded in clinching the opening frame after some fight but he was offered less resistance in the next frame. He gave nothing away in third frame and he was equally at ease in the fourth frame. He ran into 4-0 lead within no time. Un-Nooh had won just one frame when interval was announced at 1 pm.

There was a fierce fight in the sixth frame as the battle resumed after one-hour break for Friday prayers. Un-Nooh won it to reduce the deficit. Ayouri made it 5-2 by claiming the seventh frame but his Thai rival registered a break of 71 to take the next frame. Un-Nooh made it 4-5 by also taking the ninth frame but the Iranian hit back with a break of 72 that allowed him to make it 6-4.

The cool and calculated Un-Nooh didn’t appear under any kind of pressures even though he was in danger of defeat. He played superbly under pressure and by pocketing the last three frames under enormous pressure he proved the point that he was the worthy winner of the title. He finished it in style, with a masterful break of 92 in the decisive 13th frame.

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Tendulkar eyes 100th international century and improved ICC rank in Asia Cup


SKM Sports

India’s iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar will be eyeing to score his hundredth international century and, in the meantime, also improve his rankings in the Asia Cup starting in Mirpur, Dhaka, on March 11.

Tendulkar has scored 51 Test and 48 ODI centuries in an illustrious 23-year career but the 100th century has been eluding him since last year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.

In addition to this, Tendulkar’s current ranking of 29th is his lowest since December 1991, when he slipped to 31st position. The 38 year-old’s highest career ranking is at the top of the listings, a mark he first achieved in February 1996.
In the Reliance ICC ODI Championship table, the main battle appears to be for the number two position as Australia has all-but-sealed top spot for the third successive year and ninth time in 11 years.

The only way Australia can slip behind second-ranked South Africa is in the highly unlikely scenario of it losing all the five ODIs against the West Indies. In other words, Australia just needs to win an ODI of the five-match series to retain the prestigious ODI shield and with it win a cheque of US$175,000. However, battle for second position remains tight with South Africa leading India by just one ratings point.

Sri Lanka’s batting trio Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal will be aiming to carry their recent good form into the Asia Cup. If they can do that then it will help them maintain upward movement in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen after the trio stormed up the batting chart at the conclusion of the three-nation series which finished in Adelaide earlier in the week.

Sangakkara has jumped five places to fourth position after finishing as the fourth leading run-getter with 420 runs, Dilshan has moved up four places to 10th place after ending as the leading scorer with 513 runs, while Chandimal has broken into the top 20 for the first time and lies in 18th spot after scoring 419 runs, success that saw him rise 18 places.

The latest rankings, which reflect player performances in the three-match ODI series between New Zealand and South Africa which finished on 3 March, were released on March 9.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena is the other Sri Lanka batsman to improve his ranking in the tri-series in Australia, which also featured world champion India. Jayawardena chipped in with 406 runs and has been rewarded with a rise of two places which has put him in 17th position.

Three Australia batsmen have also been rewarded for their consistent performances. Skipper Michael Clarke has moved up two places to eighth spot after scoring 331 runs in six matches, David Warner has been rewarded with a jump of 97 places which puts him in 53rd position after he aggregated 506 runs in the series and David Hussey has gained eight places and is now in 34th position after scoring 439 runs at an average of just under 55.

Other players to improve their rankings include New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum 19th (up by eight places) and JP Duminy of South Africa in 22nd (up by two places).
In the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers, South Africa’s Lonwabo Tsotsobe has achieved the number-one ranking for the first time in his career.

The South Africa left-arm fast bowler took six wickets in his side’s 3-0 win over New Zealand which has been enough to lift him ahead of Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal. Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn are the other South Africa bowlers on a move in the right direction.

Morkel was the most successful bowler in the series with seven wickets which has helped him leapfrog England’s Graeme Swann in third position while Steyn has moved up three places to 13th position.

Australia’s trio Shane Watson, Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty have also improved their rankings. Watson has vaulted 15 places to 25th position, McKay has moved up six places to 28th position and Doherty has gained a place and is now in 29th spot.

In the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI all-rounders, Watson has dislodged Shakib Al Hasan from the number-one position. The Australia leads the former Bangladesh captain by three ratings points.

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