olympics
Pakistan hockey sinks to new depths but boxer Hussain Shah prompts a few smiles
In the closing stages of the tournament, Great Britain gained a historic 3-1 victory in the final over West Germany. Holland defeated Australia 2-1 in the play-off to win the bronze medal, Bovelander scoring twice from penalty corners
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
After having won medals at all their previous seven Olympic Games appearances, Seoul 1988 saw Pakistan hockey sink to new depths, as all the team could manage was a fifth position. Since Melbourne 1956, Pakistan's hockey players had claimed three gold medals at the Olympiad, in addition to three silver medals and a bronze. Even when they were starting off at the international sports level soon after independence, the Pakistan hockey team had ended fourth at the 1948 Olympics in London as well as the event at Helsinki in 1952, but Seoul forty years later was a story no one would want to remember.

cricket
Pakistan cricket needs the right balance
Such an irresponsible sort of excuse could only have come from a Pakistan cricketer. These players who are supposed to act as role models and set standards for others are turning out to be plain villains with utter disregard for moral values
By Imran Farooqi
Pakistan cricket's unabashed flirt with controversies continues unabated as it enters a fresh season. The nation was still struggling to come to terms with Shoaib Akhtar's suspension from the game when Mohammad Asif, the former's pace partner, joined him on the sidelines. This time it is not some recurring injury -- as is usually the case with Pakistan's pace merchants -- but an action that has further dented the nation's falling image.

Playing host to cricket rivals with predictable results
In the light of their history, Pakistan's defeat was as expected as that of UAE, Hong Kong
By Waris Ali 
Before the start of the Asia Cup tournament in Pakistan in the last week of June, the results of certain fixtures were highly predictable for the cricket lovers; so they were sure that the minnows United Arab Emirates will lose to Bangladesh, but the Ashraful-led team will lose to Sri Lanka, who will win both the group matches.

Pakistan: The country that once ruled squash
Jahangir Khan is probably the greatest squash player ever. His rise was meteoric. He is a prodigy, a superstar,a star, a genius, one of the finest sportsmen and a legend, with probably no comparison among his peers or contemporaries
By Syed Naveed Abbas
Peter F Drucker laudably cries out "Leadership is not magnetic personality that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people through flattery. Leadership is lifting an institution's/person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

 

olympics
Pakistan hockey sinks to new depths but boxer Hussain Shah prompts a few smiles

After having won medals at all their previous seven Olympic Games appearances, Seoul 1988 saw Pakistan hockey sink to new depths, as all the team could manage was a fifth position. Since Melbourne 1956, Pakistan's hockey players had claimed three gold medals at the Olympiad, in addition to three silver medals and a bronze. Even when they were starting off at the international sports level soon after independence, the Pakistan hockey team had ended fourth at the 1948 Olympics in London as well as the event at Helsinki in 1952, but Seoul forty years later was a story no one would want to remember.

Of course, in the two decades since, Pakistan's hockey has suffered worse fate at the Olympics -- like a pathetic sixth place at Atlanta 1996, but Seoul was the first time in more than thirty years that the sport had failed to bring the country a medal at the Olympic Games.

The success of boxer Syed Hussain Shah though prompted a few smiles on the faces of his countrymen and fans back home. He emulated wrestler Mohammad Bashir, who picked up a bronze medal at the 1960 Games in Rome, in winning a bronze for himself in the Olympics held at the capital of South Korea. To this day, Bashir and Hussain Shah remain the only Pakistani sportspersons to have won individual medals at the Olympic Games.

Between Los Angeles 1984 -- where Pakistan clinched their third gold medal in the hockey competition at an Olympiad -- and Seoul 1988, the hockey players in fact had done not too well. By the time the latter event came about, Pakistan had lost several players, some had retired, a few others were not under consideration for selection anymore. The hockey team that went to Seoul was surely not Pakistan's strongest to have participated at the Olympic Games.

Only four players survived from the gold-winning squad of Los Angeles. Nasir Ali was now the team's captain, with Ishtiaq Ahmed having been appointed as his deputy. Two others who played in the Olympic Games four years earlier were chosen again; they were Khalid Hameed and Naeem Akhtar.

Following the 1984 Olympiad, goalkeeper Shahid Ali Khan served as the Pakistan junior team's skipper but was overlooked for the Seoul Olympics. Manzoor Hussain Junior, who was captain at Los Angeles, retained his job for a while, leading Pakistan to second place behind Australia at the 1984 Champions Trophy event in Karachi. However, soon the team's leadership went to his former vice-captain Hanif Khan.

Hanif began well as under him Pakistan retained the Asia Cup title in Dhaka in 1985. Pakistan ended fourth at the Champions Trophy in Perth later the same year and took only the bronze medal at the Sultan Azlan Shah event in Ipoh, also in 1985. By the time the team played a couple of Four-Nation Tournaments in Dubai and Kuwait in 1986, the Los Angeles hero Hasan Sardar had been named captain.

With Hasan at the helm, Pakistan finished second in both four-nation competitions. Then, the team finished third behind Germany and Australia at the Champions Trophy played in Karachi in 1986. By the time the tour of Europe came about the same year, the captaincy had been handed to Samiullah's younger brother Kalimullah, who himself had appeared at the Los Angeles Olympiad.

 

PAKISTAN HOCKEY

HAS A GREAT FALL

Kalimullah took the Pakistan team on an extensive tour of Europe in 1986 which was followed by a separate trip to West Germany. Pakistan ended second behind hosts USSR in a Four-Nation Tournament in Moscow and then, in a surprise result, South Korea defeated them 2-1 in the final of the Asian Games in Seoul in 1986.

Then, Pakistan hockey had a really great fall. With Kalimullah still the captain, they ended up at a pathetic number 11 position -- former Olympic champions India were 12th and last -- at the 1986 World Cup staged in London. Australia became champions and Kalimullah got the axe.

Hasan Sardar was recalled as captain for the Sultan Azlan Shah event in Ipoh 1987, where Pakistan lost to Germany in the final. But Hasan's days as skipper were numbered as Pakistan finished seventh out of eight teams in the 1987 Champions Trophy in Amsterdam. Hasan's hockey career too came to an end.

Full-back Nasir Ali was named captain for the Four-Nation Tournement in Luton near London in 1987. Pakistan only lost out to hosts Great Britain who won the Lada Classic Invitation title. The team continued to finished among the first three positions in various contests until the 1988 Seoul Olympiad -- they won silver at the Champions Trophy in Lahore in 1988, in addition to claiming the top honours at the Indira Gandhi Gold Cup event in Lucknow, also in 1988.

Nasir Ali continued to be the Pakistan hockey captain. The newcomers to the Seoul Olympic squad were goalkeepers Mansoor Ahmed and Rizwan Munir, in addition to Khalid Bashir, Qazi Mohib, Naeem Amjad, Aamer Zafar, Tariq Sheikh, Zahid Sharif, Musaddiq Hussain, Shahbaz Ahmed, Qamar Ibrahim and Tahir Zaman.

One of Pakistan's most successful captains, Islahuddin Siddiqi, who himself had been an Olympian twice -- in 1972 and 1976 (as vice-captain the second time), was now the team manager. The coach's job was taken up by Manzoorul Hasan, who played at the 1976 Olympiad in Montreal.

HOCKEY SUPREMACY

RETURNS TO POWER BASE

The noted hockey writer and historian Sydney Friskin commented in his book 'Pakistan Hockey" Going for Gold': "Four years later in Seoul (after Los Angeles 1984), Olympic hockey supremacy returned to its original power base in Europe with Great Britain, West Germany and Holland seizing the three medals at stake. Australia once again went home empty handed and Pakistan and India finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

"Islahuddin, Pakistan's team manager, spoke of injuries to key players on the eve of the tournament. Still, the start was encouraging enough with a 5-1 victory over Spain followed by the 8-0 trouncing of Kenya in a match embellished by four goals from Tariq Sheikh.

"There followed a 2-1 victory over Argentina, the match ending in a scare for Pakistan when Fernando Ferrera missed a golden chance to equalise.

"Pakistan's troubles then began with a 4-0 defeat by Australia, and September 26 proved a fateful day for the two powers from the Asian subcontinent. Pakistan lost 2-0 to Holland, having no answer to the two goals scored from penalty corners by Floris Bovelander and India went down 3-0 to Great Britain.

"Throughout the tournament the outside-left Khalid Hameed, the left-half Naeem Akhtar and the goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed struggled to regain fitness and were not always available to Pakistan.

"In the closing stages of the tournament, Great Britain gained a historic 3-1 victory in the final over West Germany. Holland defeated Australia 2-1 in the play-off to win the bronze medal, Bovelander scoring twice from penalty corners and Graham Reid replying for Australia.

"Playing off for fifth place, Pakistan beat India 2-1 with Musaddiq Hussain and Qazi Mohib scoring for Pakistan; Mohinder Pal Singh for India."

Pakistan had included Shahbaz Ahmed in their line-up, who was to become the country's most capped player (304 appearances), a successful captain and one of the greatest forwards the game has seen. At age 19 in 1987, he was appointed the junior side's skipper, leading them to victory in the first Junior Asia Cup played in Karachi the same year.

Apart from being a brilliant player, Shahbaz also courted controversy in his career, especially when just before the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 he led a players' revolt. But he appeared in three successive Olympiads, and was captain of the bronze medal-winning outfit at Barcelona in 1992.

Also in the 1988 team was the stylish full-back Qazi Mohib. He and Shahbaz made three goals each in Seoul. Mohib, who also went on to captain Pakistan, tragically died young at age 33 in 1997 due to cancer.

 

HUSSAIN SHAH EARNS

A BOXING MEDAL

All was not really lost for Pakistan at the Seoul Olympiad. Syed Hussain Shah, who too had his origins in Karachi's Lyari area from where many well known Pakistani boxers have emerged, did himself proud by winning a bronze medal in the middleweight category. With bronze going to both losing semifinalists, Hussain Shah shared the podium with Chris Sande of Kenya.

The gold medal in this category was won by Henry Maske of the German Democratic (East) Republic while Canada's Egerton Marcus, who beat Hussain in their semifinal, took silver.

Hussain Shah, 24 years old at the Seoul Olympics, had won an Asian Games silver medal in his weight category at the same venue two years earlier. He had claimed gold medals at the first three South Asian Federation (SAF) Games -- at Kathmandu 1984, Dhaka 1985 and Calcutta 1987. He went on to win another two gold at Islamabad 1989 and Colombo 1991.

Hussain was surely one of Pakistan's most prolific boxers, also winning gold medals in other major regional boxing competitions. He later turned professional, moved to England and had a fair amount of success before finally hanging up his gloves.

With Hussain at Seoul was the light middleweight boxer Syed Abrar Hussain, who had also taken part in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and was to appear at Barcelona 1992 too. Abrar didn't go beyond the pre-quarter-finals in 1988. He was, however, one of the country's leading boxers, having won three gold and a bronze medal at the SAF Games. He won a gold medal at the Beijing Asian Games in 1990. Four years earlier at the Seoul Asiad, he had taken a bronze medal.

Pakistan performed poorly in other games at the Seoul Olympics. The athletes finished last or thereabouts in their chosen events. Syed Meesaq Rizvi made his second Olympiad after Los Angeles but disappointed again. The two yachtsmen Mamoon Sadiq and Javed Sadiq ended at 29th place out of 29 pairs in the 470 Class.

Wrestler Abdul Majeed Maruwala, who had lost to gold medal winner Ed Banach of the USA at Los Angeles, gave a good account of himself finishing seventh out of 28 competitors. His teammates Mohammad Azeem and Mohammad Anwar didn't do very well though.

Farjad Saif made an appearance in the men's singles preliminaries as Pakistan participated in the Olympic Games table tennis event for the first and only time -- the sport was in fact making its debut at the Olympics. He didn't go any farther from there.

 

BEN JOHNSON SUFFERS DRUG DISQUALIFICATION

Although the drug disqualification of sprinter Ben Johnson was the biggest story of the 1988 Olympics, the Seoul Games were highlighted by numerous exceptional performances. Christa Luding-Rothenburger, who was also a speed skater, earned a silver medal in cycling to become the only person in history to win Winter and Summer medals in the same year.

Steffi Graf concluded her Grand Slam tennis season by winning Olympic gold. Greg Louganis repeated victories in both diving events. Florence Griffith-Joyner dominated the sprints. For the first time, all the medallists in the equestrian dressage were women.

A total of 159 nations were represented, with 8,391 athletes -- 2,194 women and 6,197 men -- taking part. There were 263 events in 27 sports. As many as 11,331 media people covered the Olympics -- 4,978 from the written press and 6,353 broadcasters. 

The 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, were officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad. The host was chosen in the September 30, 1981 vote, ahead of the Japanese city of Nagoya. It was the second Asian nation to ever host an Olympic Games.

North Korea, still officially at war with South Korea, boycotted the event. Cuba, Ethiopia and Nicaragua joined the boycott.

Soviet Vladimir Artemov won four gold medals in gymnastics. Daniela Silivas of Romania won three. US sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner won three gold medals and a silver on the track.

Canadian Ben Johnson won the 100 metres in a new world record, but was disqualified after he tested positive for stanozolol. In 2004, Johnson accused the American sports authorities of protecting American athletes at the expense of foreign ones. He still claims to this day that Andre Jackson, "the Mystery Man", put the stanozolol in his food or his drink.

American boxer Roy Jones Jr lost the gold medal to South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun in a very controversial 3-2 judge's decision. Allegations swirled that Korean officials had fixed the judging. Jones Jr received the Val Barker Trophy, an award for the most impressive boxer of the Games. The three judges ruling against Jones were eventually suspended.

Lawrence Lemieux, a Canadian sailor in the Finn class was in second place and poised to win a silver medal when he abandoned the race to save an injured competitor. He arrived in 21st place, but was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with a special award honouring his bravery and sacrifice.

US diver Greg Louganis won back-to-back titles on both diving events, but only after hitting the springboard with his head in the 3m event final. This became a minor controversy years later when Louganis revealed he knew he was HIV-positive at the time, and did not tell anybody. Since it is now known that HIV cannot survive in open water, no other divers were ever in danger.

Anthony Nesty of Suriname won his country's first Olympic medal by winning the 100m butterfly, scoring an upset victory over Matt Biondi by .01 of a second (thwarting Biondi's attempt of breaking Mark Spitz's record seven golds in one Olympic event); he is also the first and up to date, only black person to win a swimming gold.

Swimmer Kristin Otto of East Germany won six gold medals. Other multi-medallists in the pool were Matt Biondi (five) and Janet Evans (three).

Tennis returned to the Olympics after a 64-year absence, and Steffi Graf added to her four Grand Slam victories in the year by also winning the Olympic title, beating Gabriela Sabatini in the final.

Two Bulgarian weightlifters were stripped of their gold medals after failing doping tests, and the team withdrew after this event.

Soviet Union topped the medals table with a tally of 132, that comprised 55 gold, 31 silver and 46 bronze. East Germany was second with 102 (37-35-30) and United States dropped to third place with a total of 94 (36-31-27).

The other nations among the top ten were hosts South Korea 33 (12-10-11), West Germany 40 (11-14-15), Hungary 23 (11-6-6), Bulgaria 35 (10-12-13), Romania 24 (7-11-6), France 16 (6-4-6) and Italy 14 (6-4-4).

 

NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona

 

The writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'

[email protected]

[email protected]

 

PAKISTAN AT 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: ALL RESULTS

ATHLETICS

100 metres: Round 1 heat 7 Mohammad Afzal 10.91sec 6th out of 7 (overall 77th out of 101)

200 metres: Round 1 heat 3 Mohammad Afzal 21.89sec 6th out of 7 (overall 52nd out of 71)

400 metres: Round 1 heat 8 Mohammad Fayyaz 47.13sec 6th out of 8 (overall 39th out of 73)

800 metres: Round 1 heat 4 Syed Meesaq Rizvi 1:51.58min 6th out of 8 (overall 50th out of 67)

4x400 metres relay: Round 1 heat 3 Pakistan (Bashir Ahmed/Mohammad Sadaqat/Mohammad Afzal/Mohammad Fayyaz) 3:08.54min 6th out of 7. Semifinal heat 2 Pakistan 3:09.50min 8th out of 8 (overall 15th out of 22)

Long jump: Qualifying Group 2 Mohammad Urfaq 7.09m 16th out of 17

Triple jump: Qualifying Group 2 Haider Ali Shah 14.88m 19th out of 20

 

BOXING

Light Middleweight (71kg): 1/32 bout 31 Syed Abrar Hussain beat Noureddine Meziane (Algeria) KO in second round, 1/16 bout 5 beat Mayo Franco (Cameroon) RSC, 1/8 bout 8 lost to Raymond Downey (Canada) on points 5:0

Middleweight (75kg): 1/32 bye. 1/16 bout 9 Syed Hussain Shah beat Martin Amarillas (Mexico) on points 3:2, 1/8 bout 5 beat Musungay Kabongo (Zaire) on points 5:0. Quarter-finals bout 3 Syed Hussain Shah beat Zoltan Fuzesy (Hungary) on points 3:2, semifinals bout 2 lost to Egerton Marcus (Canada) on points 4:1. Syed Hussain Shah won the bronze medal

 

HOCKEY

Preliminary round Group A: Pakistan beat Spain 5-1 (half-time 0-1), beat Kenya 8-0 (h-t 4-0), beat Argentina 2-1 (h-t 1-0), lost to Australia 4-0 (h-t 4-0), lost to Holland 2-0 (h-t 2-0). Pakistan finished third after Australia and Holland in Group A 5 played, 3 won, 2 lost, GF 15, GA 8, points 6. Semifinals round match 3 Pakistan beat USSR 1-0 (h-t 0-0), final 5-6 places Pakistan beat India 2-1 (h-t 0-1). Pakistan finished 5th

 

TABLE TENNIS

Men's singles: Preliminary Group F Farjad Saif beat Zoran Kalinic (Yugoslavia) 3-1, beat Claudio Kano (Brazil) 3-0, lost to A Abdelhalim (Egypt) 1-3, lost to Erik Lindh (Sweden) 1-3, lost to Desmond Douglas (Great Britain) 0-3, lost to Huei Chieh Huang (Chinese Taipei) 0-3, beat Martinez Fermin (Dominican Republic) 3-1. Matches played 7, won 3, lost 4. Placed 4th out of 8 in group

 

WRESTLING (FREESTYLE)

57kg: Group A round 1 Mohammad Azeem beat Georg-Jose Auer (Austria) as Auer showed passivity with Azeem leading 9:0, round 2 lost to Ryo Kanehama (Japan) on points 9:6. Mohammad Azeem ranked 21st overall out of 49

74kg: Group A round 1 Mohammad Anwar beat Djib Diouf (Senegal) by fall, round 2 lost to Ayatol Vagozari (Iran) on points 20:9, round 3 lost to Adlan Varaev (USSR) by fall. Mohammad Anwar ranked 13th overall out of 30

90kg: Group A round 1 Abdul Majeed Maruwala beat Walter Koenig (Australia) by fall, round 2 beat Christ Iloanusi (Nigeria) as Iloanusi showed passivity with Majeed leading 4:0, round 3 lost to Akira Ota (Japan) by fall, round 4 lost to Gabor Toth (Hungary) on points 6:2. Abdul Majeed Maruwala ranked 7th overall out of 28

 

YACHTING

470 Class: Pakistan (Mamoon Sadiq/Javed Rasool) points 223.00, net points 187.00 29th out of 29       

 

 

PAKISTAN WON A BRONZE MEDAL

 

 

Pakistan cricket's unabashed flirt with controversies continues unabated as it enters a fresh season. The nation was still struggling to come to terms with Shoaib Akhtar's suspension from the game when Mohammad Asif, the former's pace partner, joined him on the sidelines. This time it is not some recurring injury -- as is usually the case with Pakistan's pace merchants -- but an action that has further dented the nation's falling image.

Though Asif has been released by the UAE authorities as the 'charge' of keeping in possession a contraband substance has not been proved, everybody knows very well that it could only be Islamabad's excellent relationship with the Emirates' royalty that has made the release possible.

The bowler did admit carrying the drug which he said was prescribed by a Hakeem for some ailment. Does he think people here in Pakistan and the world over are so naive that they would believe what he has to say? In an era where international players and athletes are updated regularly on drugs and the consequences of their potential use, he's behaving like an innocent kid who does not a bit about anything.

Today all sportspersons -- no matter where they come from and what sport they play -- are well aware of substances they can't use. Asif is telling us that he did not know the drug he was carrying on his person was a banned one! Unfortunately, such an irresponsible sort of excuse could only have come from a Pakistan cricketer. These players who are supposed to act as role models and set standards for others are turning out to be plain villains with utter disregard for moral values.

It is most regrettable that the Pakistan Cricket Board spends millions of rupees on getting its players fit for international assignments, but when it's time to deliver these so-called stars just fail and come up with reasons that fall well short of making sense. The PCB took all pains to ensure Shoaib Akhtar does have a fruitful and lasting career, but the latter -- through his reckless and ill-timed actions -- have always brought embarrassment to his supporters. As if this was not enough we have Asif following in his footsteps though the two might not be on talking terms with each other.

In spite of having a number of good fast and slow bowlers Pakistan is not able to groom them properly mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding the careers of the country's premier pacers. Shoaib and Asif's absence does make a difference, but Pakistan has won without these two in recent past, and can do it again.

It's time the PCB gets a clear message across to the players that any action that puts the nation's integrity in question is not at all acceptable. The sad thing is that players hailing from other countries know it by default, but here we have to teach such things. Talent-wise Pakistan and Australian players are almost equal, but what makes the latter stand out is their scientific approach to the game and the pride they take in representing their homeland.

Unless every player knows is his responsibilities to his country it will be difficult to turn things around. To make this happen the PCB will have to take steps it's afraid to take. This includes making a final decision on Shoaib and Asif. Pakistan is currently playing without them and won't do worse in any case. It's time to swallow the bitter pill if the PCB keeps the country's image anywhere close to its heart.

Already there are reports of differences between the captain and selectors. Although the two parties have denied these one thing is quite clear that the current side could not be termed a balanced one. The opening dilemma continues to dog Pakistan, and short of options the skipper has been forced to open the innings -- something he has done previously without encouraging results.

Malik is a very good all-round player, but expecting him to open in limited-over games with success is asking for too much indeed. By doing this we are only compounding issues. He already has too much on his plate. Currently he's struggling to establish a competitive squad, and by adding the task of opening to his existing workload the team management is only making his job more difficult.

Shahid Afridi's batting spot remains a riddle. He is bowling very well and his fielding abilities can't be questioned, yet his batting certainly is not upto the mark. He usually bats at No 6 and 7, and when he comes in either there is no time to settle and build the innings. Or, in the worst scenario, his side are already in deep trouble looking to him to repair the damage.

In the first case he's supposed to walk in and throw his bat around straightaway to accumulate runs no matter how they come as long they come. In such a case anything can happen as it's not easy to score quick runs without taking a few risks. In the second he's supposed to stay at the crease and do some grafting work which is again not his forte and a more difficult task for he does not like to get bogged down.

Though he may not be a sensible bet against the Aussies and Proteas because of their methodical approach to the game and also because these two sides do have plans to counter all sorts of threats from the opposing players, against teams like India, England, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand Afridi will always have a better chance because once hit around their bowlers tend to lose way and that's where there can't be a better choice than Afridi.

In short Pakistan needs to get its balance right. At the right time the right player must be used and that's what makes a coach and captain great. It's their ability to act quickly and act right that brings success. The Pakistan think-tank must sit down and come up with a plan that is flexible yet effective and where every player knows what role he's required to play.

Before the start of the Asia Cup tournament in Pakistan in the last week of June, the results of certain fixtures were highly predictable for the cricket lovers; so they were sure that the minnows United Arab Emirates will lose to Bangladesh, but the Ashraful-led team will lose to Sri Lanka, who will win both the group matches.

Similarly, Group B will witness defeats to Hong Kong at the hands of cricket giants India and Pakistan; ultimately, the Super Four stage will be played among Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; and this is what happened really.

However, one thing went against the expectation of a Pakistani cricket-lover; Pakistan lost all the matches of the tournament except the first match against minnows Hong Kong, and a critical match against India. In spite of setting a rather tough target of 300 runs for the rivals India in the second group match, Pakistan were reduced to ultimate losers because of brilliant display of Sehwag (119) and Raina (84), when eight overs were yet to be bowled. It was the first major defeat for Pakistan.

Then came the next match in which the Shoaib Malik-led team suffered another humiliating loss, this time at the hands of Sri Lankans, when the chasers failed to achieve the big target of 303 runs and could score only 238 runs comprising two fifities, and shamefully two ducks and four other single digit knocks.

While Misbah's 76 runs in 70 balls were more than better in response to a six runs per over average target, skipper Shoaib Malik's 52 of 79 balls was more a waste of balls than a contribution to achieving the target set by Jayawardene's team.

However, in a rare show of strength and might, Pakistan crushed India in the 10th match of the tournament, by marvellously achieving just in the 46th over a tough target of 309 runs for the loss of two wickets only, thus sparking a ray of hope for the hosts to reach the final.

The misery is that alighting the flame of hope so as to put themselves at the mercy of the other rivals' clash is a degrading characteristic of any team: the Pakistani team's pinning of hopes on the Indian team's loss to Sri Lanka in the second last match of the tournament as a means of reaching the final was one such case. And this proved just a dream, because India effectively beat Sri Lanka by speedily chasing the 309 runs target for the loss of just four wickets.

Of the total five matches Pakistan played during the tournament, they won three against Hong Kong, India and Bangladesh and lost two against India and Sri Lanka.

In the Super Four stage, the three teams -- Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India -- won two matches each, however, Pakistan was beaten by the two teams on the points table, because the latter carried forward two points from the group stages by winning two matches of their respective groups.

The fact is that Pakistan's defeat in the Asia Cup is a continuation of its past record which proves that the team had been losing and losing on every front, and in every tournament. Pakistan's failure to qualify for the final of the tournament is exactly as per fears of the aware cricket lovers of the country.

Indeed, the Pakistan cricket team has been disappointing the nation by losing easy victories, and this is a conclusion well supported by its cricket history in the last two decades. Pakistan are addicted to disappointing the nation by losing in the semifinal or a final of mega events, a conclusion indisputable in the light of its cricket history in the last two decades.

Twenty years ago, the Imran-led Pakistan cricket team, the hot favourite of the Reliance World Cup 1987, badly lost to Australia in the semifinal played at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore when they failed to chase a moderate target of 268 runs. It was a heartwrenching defeat for the whole nation.

A prophecy at the time of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup victory that Pakistan will (almost) never be able to repeat such an  elation proved true in all the subsequent four World Cup events. In the 1996 World Cup event, hosted for the first time by Pakistan, Wasim Akram bluntly refused to play in a key match of the knock-out stage against India, leaving the team in a lurch and eventually making the defending champions' extremely disappointing exit from the tournament.

In the 1999 World Cup tournament, everything was going smooth for Pakistan, but the whole struggle went fruitless when Pakistan in the final were all out in 39 overs for a meager total of 132 runs.

The story of the 2003 World Cup is even more disturbing when the Waqar Younis-led team set a new example by 'managing' an early exit from the tournament, which was repeated in letter and spirit in the next World Cup tournament in 2007 when the Inzamam-led team lost to new minnows Ireland.

This highly inconsistent cricket team has proved so consistent in its nature of shockingly disappointing the nation; this is what they did in the Twenty20 World Championship final against the arch-rivals India last September in South Africa.

India scored 157 runs for the loss of five wickets only, a target which the entire Pakistani team could not achieve as the 10 players failed to play all the 20 overs. While the Indian total depended on the 75-run knock by Gambhir, none of the Pakistani players could score a fifty. While the 63-run partnership in the Indian innings speaks of stable batting by Indian players, the highest partnership in the Pakistani innings was confined to 34 runs only.

While Hafeez, Kamran, Shoaib and Afridi were the batting specialists and expected to lead the innings, they shocked the nation by returning to the pavilion by scoring only 10 runs collectively. The Pakistani innings shamefully comprised three ducks and two single figure individual innings.

Similarly, Pakistan lost the last ODI series in India because they were ready to lose. They were, no doubt, aggressive chasers of a total as high as 321 runs; they were yet inconsistent in the department of batting. They were the Pakistan cricket team which swung from victory to defeat during the series; they lost the first ODI but won the second, then again lost the third and again lost the fourth, completing their loss in the series: the victory in the last ODI is almost meaningless.

The story comprising the accounts of the last three series in 2004, 2005 and 2006 also endorses the conclusion that Pakistan cricket team has been failing to show a consistent performance against the arch-rivals India. Though the Pakistan team fared rather well during the reciprocal tour of India in the year 2005 by beating the hosts in the six-ODI series by 4-2 and did not let the archrivals win the three-Test series, the two tours of the Indian team are an account of a poor performance of the Pakistan team.

Similarly, the defeat in the last One-day International seems more an act of hospitality than the show of fighting spirit; losing last four wickets, including that of Shahid Afridi, for 10 runs only must be a result of intentional defeat by the hosts. From this defeat, it can be considered that the Australian Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson must be getting mature in his understanding about the Pakistani team.

It was all okay when Pakistan needed just 25 runs in the last six overs, while they had four wickets in hand. Shahid Afridi was on the pitch and the cricket fans had not raised their hands to pray to God for victory; it was a considered victory, and was just a few minutes away.

The spectators knew very well that Boom Boom Afridi was going to hit a big six to close in on the much-expected victory. But the hit was big only in its altitude that ended up in the hands of a South African fielder, and the aggressive batsman Shahid Afridi put off his gloves and moved towards the pavilion: a very common scene.

I think he must be enjoying the match more from the pavilion than from inside the ground. The next three batsmen moved in the footstep of Afridi; they were also in a hurry and were persistent on striking a big hit and then meeting the same fate as of Afridi.

In short, Pakistan lost the match, and hence the series. In short, the inspired comeback by the Proteas helped the tourists clinch the one-day series by striking an unexpected victory by 14 runs.


Pakistan: The country that once ruled squash

Peter F Drucker laudably cries out "Leadership is not magnetic personality that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people through flattery. Leadership is lifting an institution's/person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

No sport had given Pakistan such a consistent recognition as squash did. No sport had the charm and charisma to enliven souls at its best among Pakistanis as squash had.

Squash was Pakistan's entry and introduction to the sports world soon after Independence in 1947. Squash supremacy and Pakistan have been synonymous for the past fifty years with the common factor of the Khans.

The Pathan dominance in squash, which continues to this day, had started with Hashim Khan as its originator. He is the grand daddy of them all -- the biggest name in Squash till date. Hashim Khan returned to see a hero's welcome that took him completely by surprise. It never crossed his mind that his victory would be greeted with an elaborate reception back home.

When his plane touched down in Karachi, the Governor General and an official party were there to greet him with speech after speech. He was also presented with a gold watch which had been specially engraved. Overcome with emotion, he was only able to reply with one word -- 'Thanks'.

With a gift for the game and a prudent sports acumen, Jahangir Khan is probably the greatest squash player ever. His rise was meteoric. He is a prodigy, a superstar, a star, a genius, one of the finest sportsmen and a legend, with probably no comparison among his peers or contemporaries. A symbol of athletic perfection. 

Jahangir not only dominated the sport, he redefined it. In 1979, he won the World Amateur title at the age of fifteen. Two years later, in Toronto, he became the youngest ever winner of the World Open Championship. Less than six months after that, he collected his first British Open. Still only twenty, his rule was absolute. His undefeated run stretched to an incredible five years, seven months and one day. A World Champion makes his sport look simple; typifies as that of a superhuman in sports.

Squash has a special place in every Pakistani's heart. It is not just a mere game for us here in the land of the Indus and Karakorams. Pakistan's squash legends have rallied to the rescue and with their superb performance have won the hearts and minds of Pakistanis the world over.    

What are we searching and what are we waiting for. This clearly implies that a leader has a vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. What is baffling is the deteriorating condition of the most exciting sport on the map of Pakistan. The squash big wigs have ruined the immensely talented players and made squash a Stockholm syndrome since ages.   

Hashim, Azam, Roshan, Mohibullah Senior, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir and Jansher, the champions of the world squash along with a host of other only slightly less distinguished players, have emblazoned Pakistan's name around the globe since 1947.

Pakistan had a tremendous time with squash and now it has become a loud case study; and how truly one says it was a glowing, well organised and most exhilarating game once upon a time. A million dollar question twinkles; are we ashamed in the gallows? The squash has become a dead and invisible game on the sporting map of Pakistan. It is a source of desperation rather inspiration.

For such a long time, after the mighty Khans, Pakistan has not produced any squash player of international calibre. How unfortunate. This is an uncanny indictment of grievous landscape of Pakistan squash today. My heart bleeds on seeing the plight of squash. No public interest and scanty media reflection of squash. It is a high time now when the legendary Air Marshal Nur Khan's vision must be revived.

In the 'Line of Fire: A Memoir', the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf states: 

"Hashim Khan, Jahangir Khan, and Jansher Khan are the best squash players the world has ever known, with Jahangir the best of the three. If Hollywood only knew his story of tragedy, grit and determination it would make another movie like Chariots of Fire. Many of those who know him consider him the best athlete who ever lived."

Actions speak louder than words; having full appreciation, it seems, of the sorry state of affairs the game is in Pakistan today, the President during his decade long over lordship has only found comfort in only vexing eloquent about the matter instead of sparing some action for rebuilding our name in squash.    

The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) should display collective wisdom to restructure the institution on war footings; otherwise the grief stricken body of sparkling game will be buried in Pakistan all by itself. It will be a debilitating blow. The Himalayas will cry and the nation will weep over this colossal loss; perhaps the last nail to hit.

The PSF should demonstrate unstintingly prudent behaviour and shape Pakistan squash out of this ill-starred thinking zone. The insolvent PSF policies without intellectual richness have termed the institution as non existent.   

In view of the above, a piece of actionable advice to the PSF and the Government of Pakistan:

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

Let's not get the voice of the nation drowned in the cacophony of vested interests and imprudent stance. We wish you best of luck for a change! 

 

The writer works for the telecom sector in a senior management position and is a social contributor

 

 

 

 

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