September 7, 2023

‘Flying Horse’ Samiullah symbolizes Pakistan’s golden era in hockey


By Syed Khalid Mahmood 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It’s time for Samiullah Khan, the living legend of field hockey, to light another candle on his birthday cake. His name has become synonymous with Pakistan’s golden era in the national sport. The Flying Horse, most appropriately titled for his incredible speed, is always found full of energy which he has successfully retained because of his healthy habits and excellent work ethics. 

Samiullah’s mention takes us back to the 1970s and early 1980s when Pakistan ruled the hockey world. Those were the times when all other teams, including Europeans, were under the awe of the green-shirted Pakistanis for whom sky seemed to be the limit. Such was the dominance of the star-studded Pakistan outfits that they were household names wherever the sport was played. 

The team was packed with superstars but left-winger Samiullah stood out because of sheer brilliance. His lightening crosses paralyzed the most formidable of defence lines and he was simply unstoppable even when confronted by the tightest of markings. 

His remarkable ball control with enormous speed was a rare and lethal combination which allowed him to penetrate the defenders at will. With his thrilling runs, body dodges and large leaps he posed the toughest challenge for the opponents. There was indeed something magical about him which made him the most valuable player of his generation. 

Having represented the country in 155 matches, he scored 55 international goals but what the statisticians won’t be able to tell you is the fact that he was instrumental in the scoring of many more goals through his fellow forwards. He was the architect of many famous victories to leave an indelible mark on the sport. 

Irrespective of the number of medals and trophies he earned, it was his impact which created numerous scoring opportunities and paved the way for the country to register victories with unmatchable frequency. It was a pity that his solitary appearance in Olympic Games came at Montreal in 1976 as Pakistan boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games at Moscow and he was forced to hang his boots before the 1984 Olympic Games which took place at Los Angeles. 

He, however, featured in three editions of the World Cup, starting from Kuala Lumpur in 1975 where he hit headlines as Pakistan won silver medal. He continued to star in the next couple of World Cups at Buenos Aires (1978) and Bombay (1982) where Pakistan clinched gold medals. 

He enjoyed even better record in Asian Games, as the country won gold medals on all three occasions, Tehran (1974), Bangkok (1978) and New Delhi (1982). Pakistan also captured gold medal in the 1980 Champions Trophy at Karachi in his presence. 

Rather interestingly, the Indian audience in particular saw him at his very best when he was in the leadership role in two successive events. He was the vice-captain of the Pakistan team which won the World Cup at Bombay in 1982 while he was the captain of the team which annexed the Asian Games at New Delhi later the same year.

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September 4, 2023

Prokhrov pledges support to MSAP in chess promotion


By Ehsan Qureshi 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Director of the Russian Centre of Science & Culture (RCSC) in Karachi, R M Prokhrov, has reiterated continued support to the mind sport of chess by hosting its various events besides providing other facilities to the participants and organizers. 

He also announced the famous Grand Master, an ex-world champion and a prolific trainer from Russia, Anatoly Karpov, will be training the Pakistan’s national masters of chess. He made these remarks while inaugurating Engro Women Training Programme being held at the RCSC, also known as Friendship House, on September 3. 

The event is being organized by the Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP) as part of its women empowerment initiatives. Around 25 women, including students from some of the prestigious educational institutions of Karachi, have enrolled for the programme. 

Tariq Rasheed Khan, CEO of MSAP, complimented Prokhrov for his support for this program and plans for arranging the Russian chess star Anatoly Karpov for training Pakistan chess masters.

Pakistan's chess star apparent, Grand Master Mahmood Lodhi, is the chief instructor with FIDE Master Omer Khan and Muhammad Waqar are both qualified trainer and coaches. The MSAP's Syed Akhtar Sami is supervising overall programme.

The MSAP, it may be recalled, was founded in 2008 for the promotion of bridge, chess and scrabble, three of the most popular mind sports in the country. The Association has held a number of events over the last 15 years beside facilitating the participation of the players in international events. 

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September 3, 2023

Younis, Sarfaraz face discrimination from PCB once more


By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), seemingly as a part of its promotions ahead of the upcoming Cricket World Cup 2023, compiled and released a video, showcasing the high moments in history on the eve of the 76th Independence Day celebrations. Its contents have already resulted in causing lots of resentment and controversies. 

Initially the PCB was slammed for ignoring Imran Khan, the triumphant skipper of the World Cup 1992. Since he is a former Prime Minister besides being one of the greatest-ever all-rounders of the game, with a huge fan following globally, there was uproar and criticism from every nook and corner of the world. 

Omitting the World Cup winning captain on political grounds was indeed shameful and the PCB was forced to edit the video and release a new one which included his images. But a couple of more glaring omissions have not been rectified yet, which is very disappointing for those who love the game the most earnestly. 

How could the history of Pakistan cricket remain complete without mentioning the accomplishments of Younis Khan and Sarfaraz Ahmed? Yet they have been deprived of this honour of featuring in the video highlighting Pakistan’s conquests in the cricket field. Younis, as we all know, is the only other World Cup winning captain of Pakistan.

If Imran was the skipper of the team which brought home the title in 1992 it was Younis, under whose leadership, Pakistan had won the World Twenty20 Championship in 2009. Isn’t it strange that one World Cup winner becomes the Prime Minister of the country and the other one is denied the kind of respect and recognition he deserves?

Younis holds national records for the highest number of Test runs as well as centuries. He won numerous matches for the country. He led the team with distinction. But he was victimized in his playing days and the same trend has continued all along. Since he is brutally honest and straightforward, who always believed in let his bat to do all the talking, he has often been sidelined from limelight. Those in the corridors of power have generally been reluctant to interact with him because he takes pride in calling a spade a spade. 

Sarfaraz has also been meted out step-motherly treatment all along despite having exceptional record both as a player and as a captain of the national team. He had led the country to title victory in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. Earlier he was also the captain of the Pakistan team which annexed the ICC Youth World Cup. 

Pakistan remained the top ranked team in T20 rankings for two and a half years when Sarfaraz, an enterprising wicketkeeper-batsman, was at the helm of the affairs. He is credited to have blooded and groomed the youngsters like Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Khan Afridi and Fakhar Zaman who have gone on to become world-class performers. 

Both Younis and Sarfaraz have done wonders for the country, Any documentary of Pakistan cricket will be deemed incomplete without their mention. The PCB must re-edit the video to include both of them because they deserve to be there. The heroes are meant to be respected and admired, not humiliated or insulted.

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