May 28, 2013

World champion Asif pockets Asian 6-Reds snooker crown


Pakistan News & Features Services

Pakistan’s world champion Mohammad Asif made amends for his early exit in the Asian Snooker Championship in Karachi a few weeks earlier by pocketing the 2nd ACBS Asian 6-Reds Snooker Championship 2013 at Doha, Qatar, on May 27.


Asif overcame a spirited comeback from the dangerous Aamir Sarkosh of Iran to tame him 7-4 in the final with the frame scores of 43-0, 48-0, 48-12, 12-36, 30-34, 34-31, 40-9, 0-41, 0-41, 54-4, 41-13. 

It was in the fitness of things that the final was played between the only two unbeaten cueists of the competition in which a total of 37 cueists from 16 countries of Asia took part. The match was wide open after nine frames and it needed something special from the world champion to press home the advantage. 

“I thank Allah for the glory. It is because of him that I have this opportunity and I am happy that I won the tournament. I am happy that I was able to win it for Pakistan. Earlier this year, in the Asian tournament, I was going through a bad patch but then I have recovered well here. This tournament win has boosted my morale,” Asif observed. 

“It is difficult to keep the tempo of the game consistent. After all the opponent also has some ideas plays his game too. He is a finalist, a very mature player also. He has played well over the last year. It was always going to be difficult to beat him so fast. I played well in the first three games. He slowed the game down. Thanks to Allah, I was able to control my nerves and win it. I was 5-2 up and then he made it 5-4. These are moments which make it difficult for a player. It is always good to step out a bit, go away from the game a bit, get relaxed, in such situations,” he added. 

The result meant another major glory for the 31-year-old Asif having annexed the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2012 at Bulgaria, Sofia, less than six months ago.


The title victory at Doha meant an added satisfaction for Asif, hailing from the industrial town of Faisalabad, because he was little sad at having toppled compatriot Mohammad Sajjad in the quarter-finals. 

“At some level, there definitely was some sadness because both of us are compatriots, have played in the same place. So when the two come up against each other, it is a different feeling,” he was quoted as saying after the match. 

“I thought that both of us were playing really well in the tournament, and had we not had a match against each other, both of us would have gone still further in the tournament. But it is a part and parcel of the game,” he remarked. 


After having blasted Mohammad Shehab of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 5-1 in the pre-quarter-finals, Asif was particularly pleased to have overwhelmed the dashing Indian youngster Laxman Rawat 6-2 in the semifinals. 

The 21-year-old from Delhi, looking like the dark horse of the tournament, had also won all his three league matches before outwitting compatriot Shivam Arora, Afghanistan's reigning Asian champion, Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi, and Thailand's Yuttapop Pakpoj in the knockout games.

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May 26, 2013

Srinivasan refuses to quit despite IPL spot-fixing scandal


Pakistan News & Features Services

The President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Narayanaswami Srinivasan, has refused to tender resignation as was being speculated by a section of the media following the arrest of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan in the IPL spot-fixing scandal.


Srinivasan, who addressed a media briefing in Kolkata on May 26, a few hours before the start of the IPL final at the Eden Gardens, didn’t step down and instead promised a fair investigation by a three-member commission, which will include a person independent of the board, into the charges against his arrested son-in-law and the three players allegedly involved in spot-fixing. 

He announced that the commission, to be responsible for investigating and deciding whether Meiyappan was an owner of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, would comprise an independent member besides the nominees of the BCCI, Rajiv Shukla, Arun Jaitley, Ajay Shirke, Sanjay Jagdale and Ravi Shastri. 

"We have appointed a commission and in my statement I said the commission will determine this aspect also, and he has been travelling with the team, he's been enthusiastic, fine. What his role was, whether it transcended any rule, I have already read in a statement saying that the commission that is appointed will also deal with it. So I don't want to say anything because there is an inquiry commission that will go into it. I am not going to sit and explain to you what is role was. India Cements, I understand, has already issued a statement on what his role was and what his role was not. So I don't think it is necessary for me to go further on this," the under-fire Srinanvasan said.


He confessed to the media that the last few days had been difficult for him as a father and father-in-law, but said his actions would be nothing but professional. 

"I sit here as President of the BCCI and put aside all personal feelings. I can assure you that I will not shirk from my duty however difficult it may be. The BCCI will act without fear or favour to investigate, and if the circumstances warrant, punish any player, match official, team management or franchise that have breached BCCI or IPL regulations,” the BCCI President remarked. 

"I am not part of this commission. I will not play any role in its appointment, deliberations or decisions. The BCCI is very concerned by the allegations that have been made against the IPL, whether those relate to betting or spot fixing. As I have said on a number of occasions, the BCCI will act swiftly and sternly if the allegations are proven," he added.


"Persons who have been suspended by the BCCI, known defaulters, fugitives from the Indian justice system and other vested interests keen to discredit me and the BCCI, have indulged in a smear campaign in the last few days. The unfair attack has been relentless. The TV news channels have been carrying unverifiable statements devoid of truth,” he complained. 

"An illustration of this type of news would be that there is going to be a divorce within the BCCI. I wish to ensure the cricketing world that this is completely untrue and that there is unity in the BCCI. I have not been asked by anybody to resign. To the contrary, my support is complete, and I refuse to yield to unfair and motivated attacks. I intend to continue my duties as president of the BCCI," Srinivasan concluded.

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May 24, 2013

BCCI President may quit if son-in-law found guilty of IPL spot-fixing


Pakistan News & Features Services

The President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Narayanaswami Srinivasan, may be asked to leave if any evidence is found against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan in the IPL spot-fixing scandal, according to a report published in one of India’s leading newspapers.


Meiyappan, a top official of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, was reported to have reached Mumbai to appear before the police for questioning in connection with the IPL spot-fixing scandal. 

Chennai Super Kings, which is being led by the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is owned by the India Cements whose Managing Director is none other than N Srinivasan, the BCCI President. 

The sources have disclosed that actor Vindoo Dara Singh, who was arrested earlier this week for his alleged links with bookies, told the Mumbai Police that he bet on games on Meiyappan's behalf. He has also reportedly claimed that Meiyappan lost Rupeess one crore in betting. 

According to reports, the police had issued summons to Meiyappan to verify certain issues raised and claims made by Virender Singh.


There were reports circulating in the media on the proximity of Virender Singh to the Super Kings franchise. Those reports, which included pictures of the actor watching IPL matches in the company of Super Kings captain MS Dhoni's wife, have not been denied. 

Meiyappan's status in the Super Kings franchise became the subject of some debate, if not controversial, as the promoters began to distance themselves from him. 

"India Cements follows zero tolerance policy and if anyone is proved guilty, strict action will be taken immediately. India Cements assures full co-operation with BCCI and the Law Enforcement authorities," an official handout from the India Cements said. 

"India Cements clarifies that Gurunath Meiyappan is neither the owner nor CEO/Team Principal of the Chennai Super Kings. He is only one of the Members (Honorary) of the Management Team of Chennai Super Kings,” the press release added. 

Meiyappan, however, was frequently visible at the Super Kings dug-out and was also present at the franchise's table at IPL auctions. Interestingly, the bio on his verified Twitter account read 'Team Principal Chennai Super Kings' till it was changed, half an hour after the India Cements press release, to remove the CSK reference. 

He is also believed to be holding a gold accreditation card for the IPL, reserved for team owners. He also represented the franchise at team owners' meetings organised by the IPL and was said to be the point of contact for other franchises for any discussions over player trades and similar issues from the start of the IPL.

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May 7, 2013

Shoaib Alam makes debut as ACBS Tournament Director


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Shoaib Alam Khan has become only the second Pakistani to be an accredited Tournament Direct Born on October 2, 1970, or of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) with the recently concluded Jubilee Insurance 29th Asian Snooker Championship 2013 being his maiden assignment in the new role.


The 42-year-old Shoaib Alam has emulated Aspi Mavalvala, a former Honorary Secretary of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), who had achieved the honour more than a decade earlier. 

Born at Karachi on October 2, 1970, Shoaib Alam has been one of the most versatile snooker figures of the country. He was an active cueist having participated in Pakistan’s national ranking tournaments in the 1990s before starting his career as a referee. He has also tried his hands at the game’s administration besides having conducted quite a few local and national events. 

He had made his debut as a player in the National Snooker Championship in 1992 and kept participating in the domestic circuit until 1997, achieving the highest rank of 13 in the middle of his brief career. He became a referee in 1993 and, after supervising quite few matches at the national level, was registered as an ACBS international referee the following year. 

He made his international debut as referee during the inaugural Asian Under-21 Snooker Championship at Karachi in 1994.


Since then he has stood in seven editions of the Asian Snooker Championships besides performing similar duties in Asian Games two times. He has also refereed in Pro Ams, World Six Reds and a number of invitational international events. He was awarded the status of a Gold Class ‘A’ Referee by the Referees Control Panel of the ACBS in 2010. 

Shoaib Alam, a businessman by profession, has also remained associated with the national snooker body in the capacity of Tournament Director during the last few years. The recent elevation as the ACBS-accredited Tournament Director, however, remained the fulfillment of one his most cherished dreams. 

He was thrilled by the new assignment, reckoning that the ACBS Board had reposed confidence in his abilities by appointing him the Tournament Director for the Asian Championship. Despite his preoccupation at business, which has prevented him from accepting full-time job at the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Federation (PBSF), he has vowed to continue giving his best to the cause of cue sports in the country. 

He could have been the ‘natural’ successor to Arif Taherbhoy, the longest-serving Joint Secretary of the game’s governing body who decided to hang his boots, but it looks extremely unlikely that Shoaib Alam would be interested in accepting that position due to his own commitments. 

Meanwhile Pakistan’s veteran snooker referee, Shabbir Hussain Daruwala, also performed the duties of the Chief Referee in the Jubilee Insurance 29th Asian Snooker Championship 2013 which was held successfully in Karachi from April 27 to May 3.

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May 5, 2013

Unsung Arif Taherbhoy calls it a day


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Arif Taherbhoy, on whose shoulders the Pakistan snooker rested for nearly quarter of a century, has decided to call it day with the conclusion of the Jubilee Insurance 29th Asian Snooker Championship 2013 at the Sheraton Karachi Hotel on May 3.


The Joint Secretary of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Federation (PBSF) since 1989, he had communication the high-ups about his decision at the start of the year but he was persuaded to continue working until the just concluded Asian Championship. 

The limelight has been on Ali Asghar Valika, who led the national cue sports body with distinction for a couple of decades, and Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, who took over the leadership in 2008, but the role of Arif Taherbhoy has also been quite significant in taking snooker to the present level. 

His workaholic attitude and total commitment helped the cause of the Pakistan snooker immensely. Upon joining what then was the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) in 1989, he was initially assigned the task of coordination with media but at later stage he was entrusted the responsibilities of managing the day to day affairs of the body’s secretariat which he has run very enthusiastically all along. 

Arif Taherbhoy was born on February 14, 1949. He was engaged in a partnership business with his brother when the love for snooker brought him to the PBSA.


He was an active cueist since student life. He had played snooker at the club level during the days when the great Latif Amir Bakhsh was at the peak of his career. His biggest accomplishment was making the final of the Wahedna Gold Cup Inter-Clubs Tournament in 1972. 

“I found the administration of the sport very much to my liking and I never considered it a burden. It has been a long journey which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Being a part and parcel of five editions of the Asian Snooker Championship staged five times between 1991 and 2013 besides the World Snooker Championship in 1993 has been both an honour as well as privilege,” he observed in a recent chat. 

The 64-year-old Arif Taherbhoy smiled broadly when inquired lightly about the jumbo-sized briefcase, which he has carried all along during the course of national and international events. 

“You do need a bigger bag to hold all relevant information regarding the tournaments like the draws, the rankings, the TA/DA sheets for the participants and other working papers,” he remarked. 

The soft-spoken Arif Taherbhoy was awarded a gold medal by the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) in 1998 but he considered the World Championship 1993 staged in Karachi as the most memorable event of his lifetime. 

“It’s very heartening that we have played host to five editions of the Asian Snooker Championship (1991, 1998, 2001, 2007 and 2013) besides holding the World Championship in 1993 during the last 22 years. Let’s hope that more international snooker competitions are held frequently in Pakistan,” he concluded.

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