December 30, 2017

Changing face of Younis Khan the great


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s former captain and arguably the greatest batsman to be produced by the country, Younis Khan, had a knack of being at the centre of quite a few controversies during the peak of an otherwise illustrious career.

He retired from international earlier this year, after having become the first Pakistani batsman to score 10,000 Test runs.

His tally of 34 Test centuries also remains the highest for the country and they may remain so for a very long time.

His Test record was nothing short of being incredible. He amassed as many as 10,099 runs at a highly impressive average of 52.02 in a career spanning no less than 118 Test matches.

These are truly outstanding numbers and even the all-time great batsmen would have been proud to own such a record.

Younis was seldom accorded the respect or the recognition he richly deserved. Obviously there was the ever-present element of politics in Pakistan cricket which played its due role in him not getting the status he was entitled for.

But another factor which contributed in him being in the news for wrong reasons was his temperament. For some strange reasons he was unable to handle the success which had come his way. He would have been better off having sought some professional advice in this matter but probably nobody was sincere enough to have guided him towards that point.

In fact there were a few occasions when his accomplishments were overshadowed by his inability to conduct himself in a befitting manner with the most glaring example being the events following the ICC World T20 Championship 2009 which Pakistan had won under his leadership.

Instead of becoming a folk hero after such an emphatic victory which had allowed Pakistan to lay hands at an ICC trophy for the first time after 17 years, he was found guilty of messing it up with the media corps who was there to report the arrival of the victorious team under his command.

It's not to argue here who was right or wrong or if Younis was provoked by someone at the airport but the fact of the matter is that the triumphant skipper should have talked more about the glories in order to capitalize on the resounding victory instead of engaging into something which could have been avoided.

The mercurial right-handed batsman, whose temperament and technique were exemplary in the cricket field, would have been better off having shouldered arms or ducked instead of having a go at the volley of questions from the journalists present at the airport.

As it turned out, Younis was boycotted by the furious media community and the then Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, had to arrange a hurriedly called breakfast meeting at his residence on the Independence Day where the misunderstandings were cleared finally.

Younis, as his awesome Test record testifies, that he remained a champion batsman all along. He was a fantastic captain too. He was a courageous fellow who dared attacking the opponents in the field. Alas he was found wanting, only off the field.

Well Younis, after having quit international cricket, has started looking like a different man now. He has been expressing his thoughts in an articulate manner and he has spoken sense more often than not. We all know that he understands the finer points of the game so well. It was just a matter of time for him to get into the groove.

It's very heartening indeed to find a positive change in his attitude. His willingness to be a part of the social campaigns is winning him more friends now. An exceptionally gifted player like Younis has a lot to offer for the game. As he cares for the society and loves the game so passionately we should be seeing more of him in future.

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December 24, 2017

Mahmood Lodhi invited for King Salman World Rapid , Blitz Chess


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s first-ever Grand Master (GM) Mahmood Ahmed Khan Lodhi has been invited to feature in King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship being staged in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from December 24 to 31.

“I have received an invitation through Federation Internationale de Chess (FIDE). It’s a great honour for me as well as Pakistan for its being the global event. The FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman has sent me the invitation for this prestigious event,” he informed reporters upon arrival from Lahore en-route to Saudi capital on December 23.

Mahmood Lodhi had become the first-ever GM in 70-year history of Pakistan when he won the Asian Senior s Chess Championship in Auckland few months ago.

“The World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will be the star attraction for the championship in which over 250 men players including world leading GMs, International Masters and FIDE Masters and host Saudi Arabian players will be taking part,” he disclosed.

“The week-long championship is expected to be a big success with the presence of so many stalwarts of the game. The host country is providing boarding and lodging facilities to all the participants,” he added.

It was revealed that a record sum of US $750,000 will be on offer in each of the Open events and US $250,000 will be the prize money for each of the women's event

The first two Rapid Championships (Open and Women) will be played from December 26 to 28 while the Blitz Championships (Open and Women) will follow on December 29 and 30.

The number of players participating in the World Championships is set at a maximum number of 250 players for the Open events and 150 players for the Women events.

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December 21, 2017

VFCC proceed to KL with high hopes of winning Titan’s Cup


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News &  Features Services)

Vital Five Cricket Club (VFCC), having emerged as one of the leading clubs of Karachi in a rather short span of time, will be participating in the inaugural KL Titan’s Cup T20 Champions Trophy Cricket Tournament 2017 being staged in Malaysia.

A 21-member VFCC squad, comprising of 16 cricketers and five officials, will be flying out to Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours of December 22 to compete in the two-week long international event. 

Left-arm spinner Faheem Ahmed will be captaining VFCC with opening batsman Hassan Mahmood to be his deputy. Saad Alam and Ali Imran are the other openers in the squad while Rameez Raja and Akbar Babar are the specialist middle-order batsmen.

Shaharyar Ali Rizvi has been selected as the wicketkeeper batsman while Yasir Hussain, Ansar Mushtaq and Khurram Shahzad are the three all-rounders. Waqar Anwar, Hamza Ansari Ammar Khan and Huzaifi Hussain Alvi are the medium-pacers while Arsalan Hussain and Shaharyar Tanvir are the lead spinners.

Javed Raza Naqvi will be the chef de mission while Waqar Hussain will be the manager with Jalaluddin, Anwar-ul-Haq and Haris Khan to be the head coach, the batting coach and the bowling respectively.

The 12 participating teams in the KL Titan’s Cup T20 Champions Trophy Cricket Tournament have been divided equally in two groups for the preliminary rounds.

VFCC has been placed in the Group B alongwith FRCC, Haji Baba CC, Pak Flag CC, TSCC and Eleven Star CC while the Group A comprises of Active CC, Islamabad Green CC, Moin Khan Academy, Spartans CC and Xchanging Warriors.

At the end of the league matches, the top four teams from both the groups will qualify for the knockout stage of the competition starting with quarter-finals.

Meanwhile VFCC hosted a dinner reception prior to the departure of the squad at the Karachi Gymkhana on December 19 in which Younis Khan, a former Pakistan captain and the leading scorer of runs and centuries for the country in Test cricket, was the chief guest. Prolific Test batsman

Asad Shafiq was also present in the ceremony, largely attended by the officials and members of the club alongwith the Kuala Lumpur bound squad.

Speaking briefly on the occasion Younis Khan didn’t mince words in stating that the promotion of club cricket merited greater attention than the development of academies.

He lauded the efforts of VFCC in promoting cricket from the grassroots level and then fast tracking the development of young cricketers by sending them abroad to compete in international events like the KL Titan’s Cup.

Javed Raza, Chairman, VFCC, shared the aims and objects of the club, expressing his satisfaction over its phenomenal growth from the outset which he attributed to team work and the blessings of the present and former superstars of the country.

“We envision creating a safe, enjoyable and productive environment in which club cricket could excel while our mission is to bring back professional club culture through structuring and by engaging into positive and competitive cricket. We are on course of achieving of achieving of becoming the top cricket club of Karachi,” he disclosed.

Jalaluddin, a former Test cricketer and Head Coach of VFCC, described the club as an offshoot of the Customs Cricket Academy (CCA) and both the institutions were working hand in hand to accomplish the mutual goal of grooming the young talent and preparing them for tougher battles.

He recalled the outfits of VFCC as well as the CCA have had excellent track record abroad, having won tournaments in India, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the recent past.

Khalil Masood, an ex-Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Patron in Chief of VFCC and CCA, complimented Jalaluddin and his team for having delivered consistently during the last couple of decades to raise the bar.

“Our concept of providing coaching, participation in competitions and welfare of youngsters has set an example to follow for others. Our team of coaches has done a commendable job over the years to attain their present status,” he acknowledged.

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