November 29, 2019

Kohli capitalizing on good work of predecessors


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Captaining the Indian cricket has never been easy. The task has continued to become increasingly tough and challenging because of the monumental significance of the sport which is followed the most passionately and so closely in a country whose population is reported to be more than 1.3 billion. 

The legendary Sunil Gavaskar has indeed correctly reminded the modern great Virat Kohli that the Indians were winning in the 1970s as well as in the 1980s but it should also not be forgotten that the frequency of Indian victories was on lower side compared to the one attained by the present side. 

The cricket historians and the statisticians from all over the world will testify that the current team, captained by Kohli, has displayed far more consistency and intensity to overcome most of the obstacles than any of the outfits fielded by the country since its Test debut in 1932. 

Kohli’s may not be the most resourceful Indian side of all time which makes its conquests even more praiseworthy. The marshalling of resources and the mindset to dominate, among other factors, has enabled them to register Test victories more regularly than before. 

Mind you Kohli is also confronted, time and again, by the factors that used to derail and sometimes even dishearten the Indian teams of the past. More than half of the 10 Test matches which the Indians have lost under him so far could also have been won. At least three Tests in his tenure were hit by rain just when victory seemed round the corner. 

‘Tiger’ Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, with his dashing personality, is thought to be the first-ever Indian captain who taught self-belief to his teammates. Ajit Wadekar, credited to have fast-tracked Gavaskar into international arena, continued the Pataudi legacy to reap instant rewards. 

Bishan Singh Bedi, a great left-arm spinner, achieved limited success as captain before giving way to Gavaskar, following defeats in a couple of Test matches in Pakistan that could have been saved. 

Gavaskar, arguably the greatest-ever opening batsman in cricket history, got off to a sensational start as a captain too. He remained unbeaten in 18 Tests, winning six of them, before tasting first defeat at Sydney. He also lost the captaincy following a dismal tour of Pakistan in 1982-83. 

Kapil Dev, the mercurial all-rounder, took over and stunned the world by taming the high-flying West Indies in a high-scoring one-dayer in their own den. A few months later the Indians dethroned the mighty islanders of the Caribbean in the 1983 World Cup. 

He continued to lead by example as India defeated England in the Test series in the summer of 1986 but on innumerable occasions India failed to finish off the rivals despite being in the driving seat. 

The era of Muhammad Azharddin as captain saw India winning more regularly on home turf in the 1990s but Sachin Tendulkar, the most gifted of all batsmen, couldn’t do justice with high expectations when handed over the responsibility of leading the side. 

Enter Ganguly and the Indians become a formidable force abroad too. Remember he had taken over the command in 2000 following an unheard of whitewash at home. How he restored the confidence in his boys, or men, to become world beaters deserves special mention. And that’s what Kohli must have been at the back of his mind while praising Ganguly after decimating Bangladesh recently. 

Obviously it’s not any disrespect meant for Gavaskar or any other former Indian skipper but Kohli seemed justified in recalling that Ganguly, as captain, was responsible for putting India on path of winning Tests overseas. 

The versatile Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whom Kohli had succeeded, also played a major part in leading India to conquests in big events but he had to endure a nightmarish streak in Tests outside Asia. Kohli has been leading more or less the same bunch of players who were around in the days of Dhoni. 

These speedsters, Ishant Sharma, Muhammad Shami and Umesh Yadav, who are dismantling the opponents at will of late, were there at the disposal of Dhoni too. The spin duo of Ravichandaran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja was also there but look at their changed roles and the subsequent results.

It’s not meant to discredit Dhoni, who remained as cool as a cucumber in the toughest of scenarios and brought about many famous victories, but the fact remains that Kohli has used the same set of bowlers with a different mindset and the rest is history.

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November 25, 2019

Ali Abbas Hasanie honoured in Karachi


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The veteran cricket administrator, Ali Abbas Hasanie, was showered with praise by comrades and contemporaries in a reception hosted in his honour by the former top functionaries of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) on November 23. 

Prof Siraj-ul-Islam Bokhari, a former President and Secretary of the KCCA, and Akram Khan, ex-Joint Secretary, KCCA, arranged the ceremony to recognize the visiting official, having moved to Canada almost five decades ago. It was attended by a large number of Test and first-class cricketers, umpires and organizers. 

It was recalled that Hasanie, one of the founding members of the National Sports Club, established in 1960, had quickly made his mark in the city cricket circles as he worked closely and enthusiastically with Haji Iftikhar, who was one of the zonal chairmen of the KCCA. 

It was disclosed that, upon relocating in Canada way back in 1970, he has remained actively involved in cricket’s organizational matters besides pursuing his career as a management consultant. 

In 2011, he was elected President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Canada (BCCC) which was earlier known as the Canadian Cricket Federation (CCF). 

“My most significant contribution has been reviving international cricket in Canada against the heaviest of odds as I was instrumental in laying the turf pitch at the stadium in Toronto which paved the way for the Indo-Pak ODI series by the name of Sahara Cup to take place there in the 1990s,” Hasanie revealed in his speech on the occasion. 

In his welcome address, Prof Siraj-ul-Islam Bokhari, whose name remained synonymous with Karachi cricket for decades, became little emotional as he expressed his delight at finding a lot of retired and forgotten personalities who had served the cause of the sport diligently in the past. 

The widely respected umpire, Mahboob Shah, who earned the honour of becoming the first Pakistani to stand in a World Cup final, in his address, regretted that the cricket authorities in the country were unwilling to arrange for the training of the umpires which didn’t allow them to break into the elite ICC panel. 

Brig (Retd) Salahuddin, who is still remembered for having uprooted the stumps of the legendary opener Hanif Muhammad in a first-class match, in his speech, expressed the hope that the cricket organizers of today will learn and derive inspiration from their illustrious predecessors in order to carry forward their mission. 

The vote of thanks was presented by Jamil Ahmed while Ghulam Muhammad conducted the ceremony. Prominent among those present on the occasion were former Test cricketers Aftab Baloch, Jalaluddin and Danish Kaneria besides international umpires Saleem Badr and Masroor Ali.

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Dreamworld Resort to host World Wrestling Champions on Dec 21


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The buzz and excitement in the rings will return to Karachi with a bang with more than 15 foreign participants expected to set alight the one-day event titled as the World Wrestling Champions at the picturesque Dreamworld Resort on December 21. 

“We had witnessed the participation of four foreign international wrestlers at the first-ever competition of its kind to be held in Pakistan earlier this year but now we have received confirmation from as many as 17 combatants from abroad for the upcoming event which will be much bigger than the previous one,” Nouman Suleman, President, Pro Wrestling Federation of Pakistan (PWFP), announced in the media launch organized at the Dreamworld Resort on November 24. 

“We are excited to be bringing such a historic wrestling event to Pakistan. It is important for us to organize something new and exciting for the fans of this sport. We hope that through organizing such events, Pakistan gains recognition as an important destination for world wrestling and other mega sporting events,” he remarked. 

Hailed as the biggest event in Pakistan’s Pro Wrestling history yet, it will witness the participation of eminent wrestlers from USA, UK, UAE, Mexico, Greece and Singapore who will be coming over to Karachi to lock horns with the top challengers of the country. 

The international wrestlers, which include former and current champions from WWE, TNA, AEW, Lucha Underground and Indie circuits, are expected to be engaged in tough and exciting contests with the local talent. 

“We are more than glad to be playing our role in the promotion of soft image of our country as we reckon that the success of the our international wrestling events will be particularly helpful in sending positive vibes from Pakistan which will encourage the top athletes of the world to continue visiting our country without any apprehensions or reservations,” Faraz-ul-Huda, Head of Marketing, Dreamworld Resort, observed. 

“As part of our policy of promoting the neglected sports, we had joined hands with the PWFP to hold Rumble in Pakistan earlier this year which was hailed as a landmark event. In order to promote wrestling further, we are now helping them organize another event next month which is expected to be even more thrilling spectacle than the previous one,” he hoped. 

Abdul Jabbar Rathod, Executive Director, Dreamworld Resort, in his brief remarks, reckoned that the upcoming World Wrestling Champions will not only turn out to be an exciting day for wrestling fans but it will also help further establish Pakistan’s position in the world of wrestling. 

“We are happy to be partnering with Dreamworld Resort for this historic event. It is important to introduce new sporting avenues to the youth of our country, especially a sport such as wrestling, which, until recent years, has only ever been seen on television or online.” Zofeen Ihsan, Chief Operating Officer, Xenith Public Relations, noted. 

The media launch was also attended by some of the leading wrestlers, having performed impressively in the Rumble in Pakistan on April 28, who vowed to upstage the foreign participants in the World Wrestling Champions.

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