April 4, 2023

Sarfaraz Ahmed merits ODI selection after phenomenal Test comeback


By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It’s an open secret that Sarfaraz Ahmed has had to battle harder than normal cricketers in any part of the world to retain his place in the national team across formats. Despite having exceptional track record he has been forced to prove his worth time and again. This boy of steely nerves from Karachi deserves to be praised lavishly for having silenced his critics with performances more than once in his international career. 

After his fairytale comeback in the Test arena only a few months ago it was logical to have him in the limited overs matches as well, particularly One-day Internationals where accomplished batsmen like him are more likely to deliver than dashers or power hitters. Not surprisingly, he is being treated harshly once more. 

It’s mind-boggling to find his name still missing in the scheme of things for the ODI line-up. The kind of awesome form and fitness he displayed in the Test series against New Zealand had made him an automatic choice for the ODIs but for some strange reasons, which include petty politics, he was been kept on the sidelines once more. 

It will be fair to say that Sarfaraz, having the scores of 86, 53, 78 and 118 in four successive innings, was chiefly responsible for saving the two-Test home series against New Zealand. He was adjudged Man of the Match in the second Test and was also the unanimous choice for Man of the Series award. What more could have he done in his comeback series? 

He was scoring consistently in first-class cricket all along and yet he was kept out of the Test side for four years which can only be described as madness and nothing else. Quite remarkably Waqar Younis, as evidenced by his comments on air, was still not impressed with the accomplishments of the guy he had tormented or even victimized when he was the national coach. 

He was the man, alongwith skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, to have prevented him from playing in the early part of the 2015 World Cup. Sarfaraz was kept out of the playing eleven and it had needed the intervention of the then PCB chief, Shaharyar Khan, to get him in. The rest is history as we all know. 

Now another lobby with vested interests seems proactive in creating more hurdles for Sarfaraz to demoralize him. With the 2023 World Cup not very far away, these elements will be eager to keep him away from the squad. It is upto the PCB top brass to ensure fair chance to the man who made them proud with outstanding performance on Test return not very long ago. 

With Micky Arthur returning, there’s greater hope of justice being done with Sarfaraz as he definitely merits selection in the ODI outfit and should be a part and parcel of the squad for the next couple of years at least. His expertise and experience are too precious to be ignored. 

It’s a sheer nonsense to suggest that only one wicketkeeper-batsman can be a part of the playing eleven. Many teams are having more than one such all-rounder and they are getting the results. Therefore keeping Sarfaraz out of the team on the pretext of having someone else around for the same role makes no sense. He should be in the ODI team. No question about it.

Sarfaraz is very much needed in the Pakistan XI because he has mastered the art of accumulating runs. He remains an exceptional wicketkeeper whose batting prowess is the much-needed insurance for the national team which has often struggled in putting runs on the board.

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March 16, 2023

Draws of KG Ramazan Cricket Tournament 2023 taken out


Pakistan News & Features Services

The draws for the upcoming 36th edition of the Karachi Gymkhana Ramazan Cricket Tournament 2023, due to commence on the first day of the holy month, were taken out in the presence of the representatives of the participating teams on March 15. 

The simple but graceful ceremony of taking out draws was held at the cricket ground of the Gymkhana with its Convenor Sports, Rizwan Umer, who is also the Tournament Director, conducting the session. The club’s Secretary Cricket, Muhammad Hussain, and cricket captain, Taha Zindani, were also present on the occasion alongwith Athar Khan, Omair Shaikh, Syed Khalid Mahmood, Masood Ahmed and Rashid Aslam who attended as observers. 

The 12 participating teams have been divided equally in three groups for the preliminary rounds. At the end of the league matches the two teams from each of three groups will advance to the knockout phase, alongwith the two of the third placed teams with higher net run rates. 

According to the draws, Karachi Gymkhana Whites and Karachi Gymkhana Blues have been penciled in the Group A alongwith Ashfaq Memorial Club and N N Strikers while the Group B features Quetta Cricket Club, Rangoonwala Cricket Club, Chaudhary Sports and Greeno. The Group C comprises of Omar Associates, Sony Associates, Faizan Steel and Heroes Cricket Club. 

Although the details about the event are set to be unveiled in a media briefing next week, it was confirmed that the cricket sub-committee of the club has decided to offer a handsome prize money of over Rupees two million in the upcoming event. The total cash prizes are expected to exceed Rupees two million which will be disbursed among the outstanding performers which includes cash bonus for winning teams as well attractive cash awards for individual high-achievers. 

Launched in the mid-1980s, the KG Ramazan Festival has gone on to become the leading cricket tournament of the country to be held during the holy month as lots of leading cricketers of the day have been participating in it from time to time. 

“The KG Ramazan Festival has been our marquee event for more than three and a half decades now and we will continue trying our level best to keep adding value to it to maintain the high standards we have set for it,” Rizwan Umer, Convenor Sports and Tournament Director, remarked in a brief chat. 

The tournament has an added personal significance to Rizwan Umer because his father, Iqbal Umer, who holds the unique distinction of getting elected unopposed as the Gymkhana’s President, was one of the founders the Ramazan Festival Cricket Tournament.

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February 21, 2023

Pakistan’s runners shine in Dubai Marathon


Pakistan News & Features Services

A bunch of marathoner teams from Pakistan prominently the Wednesday Night Pacer (WNP) group from Karachi and Born2run-Pakistan team members stole the limelight in the recently held Dubai Marathon 2023 held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on February 12. 

Amin Mukaty, Abdul Rahman and Danish Raza, Founder of WNP, stood at the top by showing outstanding performance while Born2Run-Pakistan which was spearheaded by Marathon Man ‘Muhammad Yousuf’ won the medal by completing the race in four hours and 15 minutes. 

The enthusiastic marathon runner Yousuf was thrilled by his own performance and those of his teammates and other compatriots who came good in the desert.

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February 18, 2023

Syed Khalid Mahmood’s enlightening author session at Habib Public School


Pakistan News & Features Services

It was in the fitness of things that Habib Public School (HPS), one of the iconic educational institutions of the country, chose to invite Syed Khalid Mahmood, who holds the record of penning the highest number of sports books in Pakistan, for the Author Session during their recently concluded Library Week. 

The school Principal, Minhas Tejani, summed up the session most appropriately by complimenting the author to have kept the students and teachers totally involved and absorbed in the proceedings which lasted just an hour. 

The author, after being presented souvenir and certificate on behalf of the school, was showered with praise for having enlightened the audience by sharing his invaluable thoughts, anecdotes and experiences in an impressive manner. 

“We had known Syed Khalid Mahmood as an eminent journalist and author, having read his numerous articles and books but today we discovered him as a versatile speaker too. I am confident that everyone having attended this session got an opportunity to learn through his expertise,” the HPS Principal acknowledged. 

The session began at the auditorium of HPS with the recitation of Holy Quran. A documentary, prepared under the supervision of the school’s Library Manager, Rubina Merchant, highlighting the accomplishments of the author in brief, was shown at the beginning before his formal introduction with the audience. 
Syed Khalid Mahmood, in an effort to keep the interest of the students alive throughout the session, kept moving and engaged the students frequently in his talk on the subject of benefits of reading sports books. 

The half an hour speech was followed by an interactive session of almost the same length of time. Both the segments drew warm applause from those in attendance. The author made special mention of the high-achievers of HPS, particular in the field of sports. He talked about Test cricketer Shoaib Muhammad and hockey greats Sohail Abbas and Safdar Abbas besides others. 

The students impressed the author with their knowledge about sports in particular while he was thrilled to come across the high level of their awareness about the latest events. The active involvement of the participants also reflected their desire to learn new things in life.

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February 17, 2023

PVCA assured PCB support for staging inaugural Over-40 World Cup


Pakistan News & Features Services

The Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) has been assured total support by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in holding the inaugural Over-40 World Cup Cricket Tournament in Karachi later this year. 

The assurance was given by Najam Sethi, Chairman, PCB Management Committee, during his one-to-one meeting with the PVCA Chairman, Fawad Ijaz Khan, which was held in Karachi on February 16. The PVCA helmsman expressed his pleasure at having held what he considered to be a fruitful meeting with the high-profile PCB chief.

“I shared with him the details of the Over-40 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Karachi September 23 to October 8 this years in which a total of 14 countries will be participating with 56 matches to be played at eight different grounds of the city,” Fawad Ijaz disclosed in a brief chat with PNFS.

“After going through our plans and seeking details on some organizational aspects, the PCB Chairman was kind enough to appreciate the efforts of our body and he agreed in principle to fully support the event,” the PVCA Chairman added. 

He explained the various points of this year’s Over-40 World Cup, in which many star players have confirmed participation, as well as the other activities of the PVCA both at the domestic as well international levels in a meeting that lasted around one hour. The PCB chief was also briefed about the preparations for team which will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa, next month to participate in the Over-50 World Cup 2023. 

Najam Sethi, known for his proactive approach, commended the initiatives of the PVCA for efficiently conducting a broad array of activities, including organizing the Inter-School Cricket Tournaments. He applauded the World Cup winning Pakistan Over-60 team which lifted the trophy in Brisbane in September 2022.

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January 5, 2023

National Bank’s support revives Pakistan snooker


By Syed Khalid Mahmood 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Although the top officials of the sports division of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) were unable to respond to the queries concerning their high-profile consultant, Wasim Akram, a former Pakistan cricket captain, they came to the rescue of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) by sponsoring the latest edition of the Nationals which was organized at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi from December 28 to January 3. 

In the question-answer session during its media briefing held at the Karachi Club Annexe on December 24, the NBP functionaries had politely regretted the query regarding Wasim Akram who has been associated with the bank’s sports division as consultant for the last few years with his terms and conditions or job description having been kept as ‘secrets’ by their management.

The financial support to the tune of Rupees four million provided by the bank, however, to the cash-starved PBSA enabled the cue sports body to revive their domestic events and the NBP 47th National Snooker Championship 2023 was held successfully. 

The duo of Arif Taherbhoy and Naved Kapadia once more met the challenge of managing the event at skillfully and diligently. They were duly recognized for their organizational efforts. 

Mudassir Inamullah Khan, SVP/Divisional Head, NBP, and Kamran Khalid, SVP/Wing Head NBP, had done the honours on behalf of the bank by presenting the sponsorship cheque of Rupees four million to Jawed Karim, President, PBSA, at the end of the media briefing. Ali Asghar Valika, Patron-in-Chief of PBSA, alongwith other office-bearers of the association were also present on the occasion. 

Meanwhile Rehmat Ali Hasnie, President, NBP, was the chief guest in the prsentation ceremony in which a record prizemoney of Rs 525,000 was disbursed among the top performers. He presented a handsome purse of Rs two lacs to Sultan Muhammad with the winner’s trophy while runner-up Shan Naimat was awarded Rs one lac. Shahid Aftab collected a cash award of Rs 25,000 for registering the highest break (141) of the championship. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Chairman, PBSA, in his welcome address, acknowledged the support of all the stakeholders in promoting cue sports despite the crunch situation. The top officials of the PBSA as well as the NBP sports division were in attendance during the prize distribution ceremony. 

The one-week event witnessed plethora of upsets leading to the elimination of all eight seeded cueists before the title clash in which unseeded Sultan Muhammad, belonging to Sindh, emerged triumphant over Shah Naimat, a qualifier from Islamabad, in the final. 

With the fancied cueists have exited earlier, a new national champion was set to be crowned on January 3 as both the combatants were making their maiden appearance in the final of the National Snooker Championship. 

It turned out to be a fiercely fought duel and the 40-year old Sultan Muhammad won it 7-5 with the frame scores of 69-58, 16-105, 86-24, 4-85, 21-72, 32-70, 69-30, 61-39, 56-21, 62-41, 53-66, 69-0. 

Unsurprisingly both the finalists were engaged in safety first approach for the most part of an encounter lasting nearly seven and a half hours. The 28-year-old Shan Naimat broke the shackles occasionally with a break of 95 in the second frame and then chalking up another classy break of 85 a couple of frames later.

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January 4, 2023

Under-fire KMC accord befitting farewell to unsung hero


Pakistan News & Features Services

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), which has remained in the spotlight more often than not for wrongdoings in the recent past, certainly scored a point by bidding farewell to one of their unsung heroes, Nadeemuddin Khan, in a graceful manner. He retired from service as Deputy Director at the age of superannuation on December 27. 

The farewell ceremony was organized by the corporation’s sports and culture department at the famous KMC Sports Complex, located at Kashmir Road, on January 3 which was also attended by senior officers, including head of the organization, besides media personalities and sports organizers.

The opening speech was delivered by Syed Khalid Mahmood, a veteran journalist, author and analyst, who precisely shed light on the career of Nadeemuddin Khan, recalling the early and mid of 1990s when the KMC’s sports and culture department was in the able hands of Saif-ur-Rahman Grami. 

“Those were the times when the KMC sports and culture department worked with incredible zeal and enthusiasm in its mandated territories. It was the golden period in their history as they undertook the arduous tasks with smile on their faces. Nadeemuddin Khan was an integral member of the team which earned glories for the department, the corporation and the city,” Khalid Mahmood recognized. 

“Although he worked under the shadow of his officers, he was always noted for his presence and contribution. He was one of those guys who worked round the clock many a times to complete the works assigned to him. Be it drafting press releases at office or supervising installation of tents at venues of various events he was observed carrying out the assignment most responsibly,” the senior journalist complimented. 

Dr Saif-ur-Rahman, Administrator, KMC, echoed similar sentiments while praising Nadeemuddin Khan, much to the delight of the now retired unsung hero, who was encouraged to continue a purposeful and fulfilled life in the coming years. 

While the KMC chief was generous in acknowledging his role in the many successful events organized by the corporation over the years, he didn’t accede to the request of the departmental head, Saif Abbas, for re-employing him on contract basis for some time to complete the unfinished tasks. 

 Nadeemuddin Khan, overwhelmed by the occasion, looked a bit emotional and nervous in his speech but he emphatically urged the authorities to extend support to My Karachi Games, masterminded by him, which has been delayed due to lack of seed money. 

Rehana Saif, Jamil Farooqui, Saif Abbas and Shahid Nawab were among the other speakers who lavishly commended Nadeemuddin Khan for doing a great job over the years. Syed Khurshid Shah and Naheed Abida, who have been his departmental colleagues for decades, were also in attendance during the ceremony.

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