olympics
A hockey medal eludes Pakistan again as they finish fourth
The balls used in the (hockey) matches were, as directed by the International Federation, ordered from Pakistan: eighteen dozen
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
When Pakistan appeared in their second Olympic Games, at Helsinki in the northern Europe republic of Finland in 1952, they had been an independent nation for some five years but, on the sporting front, they still lacked exposure and experience at the highest level. In fact, their only previous participation in the international arena had been at the London Olympiad in 1948, barely a year after the partition of India.

cricket
Pakistan cricket: Developing its character
Salman Butt was brought into the Pakistan team in the full bloom of youthful innocence. Lack of systems, and presumably management's attitude didn't balance the equilibrium
By Dr Nauman Niaz
The question of why so many talented Pakistan cricketers fail to mature, barring a few exceptions like Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan or a late developer Misbah-ul-Haq, is not an easy one to answer. In case of Salman Butt, selectors and attitude have certainly played their part. Butt was first called into the Pakistan team at the age of 19, but technical caveats forced his withdrawal and ushered in a period of forced breaks and sporadic playing success that has lasted almost five years.

Kabaddi comes alive... on the beach and among women
The first-ever World Kabaddi Championship in the history of the game, was organised in Hamilton, Canada, when more than 14,000 people packed the Copps Coliseum
By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Every sport needs innovation to keep thriving. The rules are amended, the formats are altered and new concepts are incorporated from time to time to make it more interesting for the people and lately for television in particular.

Shoaib Akhtar:
An explosive response
It would be fitting to say that his debut in the Indian Premier League has launched the fiery paceman into an all-new avatar
By Nabeel Naqvi
Shoaib Akhtar's dazzling debut for the Kolkata Knight Riders looked more like scripted by some Hollywood genius who has a grudge with the chairman of the PCB.

 

olympics
A hockey medal eludes Pakistan again as they finish fourth

By Gul Hameed Bhatti

When Pakistan appeared in their second Olympic Games, at Helsinki in the northern Europe republic of Finland in 1952, they had been an independent nation for some five years but, on the sporting front, they still lacked exposure and experience at the highest level. In fact, their only previous participation in the international arena had been at the London Olympiad in 1948, barely a year after the partition of India.

The country was unable to send its athletes to Auckland, New Zealand, in 1950 for the Commonwealth Games and also to neighbouring New Delhi in 1951, the year the regional Asian Games were launched.

Even in 1952, although there was a bigger Olympic Games contingent of 44 as compared to 39 chosen for the London event four years earlier, it was on hockey that Pakistan's medal hopes were pinned. But they again finished fourth at Helsinki as they had in London in 1948.

The participants in all other disciplines that Pakistan appeared disappointingly showed that they were all well below international standards yet. Most athletes finished last in their chosen events, in certain cases a few qualified for second rounds but didn't go beyond that stage. Even where hockey was concerned, Pakistan actually won only one of their three matches. They were beaten in the semifinals and then ended on the losing side in the third place play-off, once again returning home empty handed having missed another opportunity to claim a bronze medal.

A group of five track and field athletes, however, had the opportunity of taking part in the Military Championship at Brussels in Belgium earlier in the year 1952. It was basically a Cross Country races event in which nine other nations also participated. Detailed results of the championship are not available, but Pakistan did well to secure fourth position.

None of these five militarymen got to be chosen for the Helsinki Olympiad though. Sixteen others did. The hockey players had succeeded to make their mark two years before going to Finland.

They took part in the hockey World Championship held in Barcelona, Spain, in the year 1950. They eventually shared the competition trophy with Holland, after a 1-1 draw in the final. Earlier, they had comfortably beaten Switzerland (3-0) and Spain (3-1). The team also undertook a tour of the continent, playing matches in France, Holland, Belgium and Great Britain beside making an appearance in Egypt also.

Pakistan sent two swimmers to Helsinki, but both Mohammad Ramzan and Mohammad Bashir finished at the very end of their respective events. Just a month later, the two appeared at the World Military Championship in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and although neither won any medals, they showed that the Olympic experience had done them some good. However, the two soon faded away as many others in their chosen discipline.

Pakistan sent participants in seven sports to Finland. No medals were won, as in London 1948. The country didn't take part in the wrestling event, after the fiasco four years earlier, where the four-man wrestling squad couldn't even feature in the competition, as they had been mistakenly entered in the Greco-Roman style instead of the freestyle section.

 

HOCKEY DENIED MEDAL

BY GREAT BRITAIN      

In 1950 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the inclusion of hockey in the programme for the Helsinki Games on condition that in addition to the host country's team not more than twelve teams participated.

Sixteen prospective entries were submitted, and from these the Federation Internationale de Hockey (FIH), at its meeting in Paris on March 9, 1952, drew up the following ranking list: 1. India 2. Pakistan 3. Holland 4. Great Britain 5. Belgium 6. Denmark 7. France 8. Spain 9. Switzerland 10. Argentine 11. Austria 12. USA 13. Finland.

Next in reserve were Germany, Italy and Poland. As Spain, Denmark, Argentine and the USA subsequently were scratched all the others were admitted, and the final number of teams was twelve.

Matches were played on the grass field in the Velodrome under a simple elimination system. The preliminary rounds were played off on July 15, 16, 17 and 18 before the ceremonial Opening of the Games, the semifinals on July 20, the match for third place on July 22 and the final on July 24.

India, Great Britain, Holland and Pakistan were, as expected, the semifinalists. Belgium gave Britain a hard contest, however, and Germany did the same to Holland. The score in both matches was 1ˇ0.

In the semifinals India beat Great Britain in convincing fashion, but Pakistan was caught napping by Holland, who went on to the final.

India gave a brilliant display of hockey in the final and won overwhelmingly 6ˇ1. This was India's fifth successive gold medal in the Olympic hockey event. The extent of her superiority is clearly evident in the score for three matches: 13ˇ2. Great Britain took  third place, beating Pakistan by a goal in a 2-1 result.

The balls used in the matches were, as directed by the International Federation, ordered from Pakistan: eighteen dozen. The Velodrome grass field in Helsinki remained in excellent condition throughout, in spite of the rain.

The Pakistan hockey team in Helsinki was composed of: Mohammad Niaz Khan (captain), Abdul Hameed, Qazi Waheed, Habib Ali Kiddie, Habib-ur-Rehman, Abdul Qayyum Khan, Abdul Aziz Mallick, Abdul Latif Mir, Fazal-ur-Rehman, Asghar Ali Khan, Safdar Babul, Mahmood-ul-Hasan, Manzoor Hussain Atif, Khawaja Mohammad Aslam, Mohammd Rafique, Sheikh Azmat Ali, Latif-ur-Rehman and Jack Britto.

Basir Ali Sheikh was again the team manager while S.M. Ayub accompanied him as the assistant manager. On their way to Finland, the team undertook a practice tour of France, England and Holland, winning nine of their eleven matches and drawing the other two.

 

TRACK & FIELD PARTICIPANTS PUT UP A POOR SHOW

Pakistan sent 16 players for the athletics track and field competition. Hardly anyone managed to advance in his particular race or event. Pakistan Army Jemadar Mohammad Aslam finished second in his 100 metres sprint heat, but ended at fourth place in the second round.

The 4x100 metres relay team, in spite of having finished third and last in its first round heat, featured in the subsequent semifinals. Although they improved on their previous timing by 2.8 seconds, they came in sixth out of the six teams participating.

Mohammad Iqbal, one of Pakistan's finest exponents of the hammer throw, finished 15th out of 16 competitors in his qualifying trials with a poor best throw of 47.45 metres (or 155ft 8-1/10in). The gold medal was won by Jozsef Csermak of Hungary, who created a new Olympic and world record with a throw of 60.34 metres, or 197 feet 11-6/10 inches!

Iqbal, then aged 25, was, however, making an appearance in his maiden international sporting meet. In the years to come, although he got no medals in the Olympics, he won Pakistan six medals at multi-sport, multi-nation competitions.

He claimed gold in hammer throw in the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in 1954 as well as the Asian Games in Tokyo 1958. A silver each came in the Asian Games in Manila 1954 as well as the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff 1958. Bronze medals were won at the Asiad in Jakarta 1962 and at the Commonwealth Games in Kingston 1966.

An interesting entry in the athletics competition was that of Allah Ditta in the 10,000 metres walk. Allah Ditta, not to be mistaken for the pole vaulter of later years, was the Pakistan walk champion in 1952 in the National Games. In Helsinki, he was disqualified in his event's first round.

The walk, as opposed to running, has no long term tradition in Pakistan athletics. It did use to be a part of national events in the early years, but no record is found of the 10,000 metres walk being contested after the 1956 National Games.

 

SECOND OLYMPIAD IN A ROW

A few Pakistani athletes appeared in their second Olympics Games after having featured in London 1948 also. One of them was sprinter Mohammad Sharif Butt, another one was the cyclist Mohammad Naqi Mallick. Boxers Sydney Greve and Anwar Pasha Turki also made it to their second Olympiad. Weightlifter Mohammad Iqbal Butt too had gone to London four years earlier.

Five hockey players also gained their successive selection in the Olympics squad. They were captain Mohammad Niaz Khan in addition to Abdul Hameed, Abdul Qayyum Khan, Abdul Aziz Mallick and Mahmood-ul-Hasan.

Among the boxers at Helsinki, both Sydney Greve and Khan Mohammad managed to get into the second round, after winning their initial bouts. Mohammad Ali was given a bye into the second round of the lightweight event. All three didn't get anywhere after that.

Shooting also made its debut for Pakistan at the Olympic Games in 1952. The lone marksman Azam Jan, whose details remain shrouded by obscurity, ended 58th and last in the small bore rifle competition.              

       

EMIL ZATOPEK EMERGES

AS THE STAR

The 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki started in spectacular fashion with Paavo Nurmi, then aged 55, entering the stadium with the Olympic flame and lighting the cauldron on the ground. Then, young football players carried the torch up to the top of the stadium tower, where another Olympic cauldron was lit by 62-year-old Hannes Kolehmainen.

The Olympic Movement's official website says, it seemed appropriate that the most impressive achievements in Helsinki should be those of another long-distance runner, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia, who became the only person in Olympic history to win the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon at the same Olympics.

The Soviet Union entered the Olympics for the first time. Although their athletes were housed in a separate "village", warnings that Cold War rivalries would lead to clashes proved unfounded. Particularly impressive were the Soviet women gymnasts who won the team competition easily, beginning a streak that would continue for forty years until the Soviet Union broke up into separate republics.

One of the first women allowed to compete against men in the equestrian dressage was Lis Hartel of Denmark. Despite being paralysed below the knees after an attack of polio, Hartel, who had to be helped on and off her horse, won a silver medal. Lars Hall, a carpenter from Sweden, became the first non-military winner of the modern pentathlon.

Back in 1924, Bill Havens had been chosen to represent the United States in coxed eights rowing, but declined in order to stay home with his wife, who was expecting their first child. Twenty-eight years later, that child, Frank Havens, won a gold medal in the Canadian singles 10,000m canoeing event.

 

PARTICIPATION INCREASED

BY 10 NATIONS

The 1952 Summer Olympics were officially known as the Games of the XV Olympiad. Helsinki had been elected as the host city over rival bids from Amsterdam, Athens, Lausanne, and Stockholm and five American cities: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Philadelphia in the 40th IOC session on June 21, 1947.

Helsinki had been earlier given the 1940 Summer Olympics but they were cancelled due to World War II.

Israel too made its Olympic debut. The Jewish state could not participate in the 1948 Games because of the War of Independence. Previous Mandate-era teams did not participate in the Olympics because of the Second World War and a boycott of the 1936 Games in protest of the Nazi regime.

Hungary, a country with a mere 10 million inhabitants, won an astonishing 42 medals at these games, coming in third place behind the USA and the USSR with one of the most outstanding exhibitions ever.

Germany and Japan were invited again after being barred in 1948. After occupation and partition, three German states had been erected. Only West German athletes took part, from the Federal Republic of Germany and the Saarland which joined the FRG after 1955, the East German Democratic Republic being absent. Despite ranking fifth by total medals with 24, Germans failed to score gold for the first and only time.

The number of nations participating was 69 in Helsinki, up by 10 as compared to London 1948. A total of 4,955 athletes were featured, composed of 4,436 men and 519 women. There were 149 events in the 17 sports competed for.

United States again topped the table with 76 medals, that included 40 gold, 19 silver and 17 bronze. USSR were second with a tally of 71 (22-30-19) and Hungary third with 42 medals (16-10-16).

The top 10 nations medals-wise included Sweden 35 (12-13-10), Italy 21 (8-9-4), Czechoslovakia 13 (7-3-3), France 18 (6-6-6), Finland themselves 22 (6-3-13), Australia 11 (6-2-3) and Norway 5 (3-2-0).

 

NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne

 

The writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'

[email protected]

[email protected] 

 

PAKISTAN AT 1952 OLYMPIC GAMES: ALL RESULTS

ATHLETICS

100 metres: 1st round heat 7 Mohammad Sharif Butt 11.0sec 3rd out of 7. 1st round heat 9 (Jemadar) Mohammad Aslam 10.9sec 2nd out of 6. 1st round heat 11 Abdul Aziz 11.2sec joint 4th out of 6. 2nd round heat 1 (Jemadar) Mohammad Aslam 10.9sec 4th out of 6

200 metres: 1st round heat 8 Abdul Aziz 22.7sec 5th out of 5. 1st round heat 9 (Jemadar) Mohammad Aslam 22.2sec 3rd out of 4. 1st round heat 11 Mohammad Sharif Butt 22.3sec 3rd out of 5

400 metres: 1st round heat 1 Abdul Rehman 51.2sec 6th out of 6. 1st round heat 3 Aurang Zeb 51.0sec 6th out of 6.

800 metres: 1st round heat 3 Alam Zeb 1:56.3min 5th out of 6

10,000 metres: Abdul Rashid 30th out of 33

Marathon: (Havildar) Mohammad Aslam 2:43.38.2hrs 38th out of 53, another 13 interrupted. Mohammad Benaras interrupted

400 metres hurdles: 1st round heat 2 Mohammad Shafi 56.1sec 4th out of 5. 1st round heat 5 Mirza Khan 56.3sec 4th out of 4

4x100 metres relay: 1st round heat 4 Pakistan (Mohammad Sharif Butt/Mohammad Fazil/Abdul Aziz/Jemadar Mohammad Aslam) 42.8sec 3rd out of 3. Semifinals heat 1 Pakistan 42.0sec 6th out of 6

4x400 metres relay: 1st round heat 2 Pakistan (Abdul Rehman/Mohammad Shafi/Mirza Khan/Aurang Zeb) 3:23.2min 6th out of 6

10,000 metres walk: 1st round heat 1 Allah Ditta disqualified

Throwing the javelin: Qualifying trials heat 1 Jalal Khan 55.56m 12th out of 13

Throwing the hammer: Qualifying trials heat 1 Fazal Hussain 48.36m 15th out of 16. Qualifying trials heat 2 Mohammad Iqbal 47.45m 15th out of 16

 

BOXING

Featherweight (57kg): 1st round Sydney Greve beat A Leyes (Argentine) KO first round. 2nd round Sydney Greve lost to J Ventaja (France) 3-0

Lightweight (60kg): 1st round bye. 2nd round Mohammad Ali lost to V Marute (Venezuela) KO 1st round

Welterweight (67kg): 1st round Anwar Pasha Turki lost to H van der Linde (South Africa) TKO 1st round

Middleweight (75kg): 1st round Khan Mohammad beat H Nowara (Poland) 2-1. 2nd round Khan Mohammad lost to W Sentimenti (Italy) 3-0

 

 

CYCLING

1,000 metres sprint scratch race: 1st round heat 5 Mohammad Naqi Mallick 3rd out of 3. Repechage heat 3 Mohammad Naqi Mallick 3rd out of 3, didn't qualify for the quarter-finals. Placed 19th overall

1,000 metres time trial: Imtiaz Bhatti 1:21.2min 25th out of 27

Team competition individual road race 190.4km: Mohammad Naqi Mallick and Imtiaz Bhatti both broke off and didn't finish

 

 

HOCKEY

First round bye. Second round Pakistan beat France 6-0 (half-time 1-0). Semifinals Pakistan lost to Holland 1-0 (ht 1-0). 3rd place match Pakistan lost to Great Britain 2-1 (ht 2-1). Pakistan finished 4th

 

 

SHOOTING

Small bore rifle (40 shots in the prone position, distance 50 metres): Azam Jan 90/96/94/96=366 58th out of 58

 

 

 

SWIMMING

400 metres free style: 1st round heat 8 Mohammad Ramzan 5:45.7min 7th out of 7

1,500 metres free style: 1st round heat 2 Mohammad Ramzan 23:44.3min 6th out of 6

200 metres breast stroke: 1st round heat 2 Mohammad Bashir 3:01.3min 8th out of 8

 

 

WEIGHTLIFTING

Middleweight (75kg): Mohammad Iqbal Butt press 95kg, snatch 100kg, jerk 130kg, total 325kg 17th out of 20

 

 

PAKISTAN DID NOT WIN ANY MEDALS





cricket
Pakistan cricket: Developing its character

The question of why so many talented Pakistan cricketers fail to mature, barring a few exceptions like Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan or a late developer Misbah-ul-Haq, is not an easy one to answer. In case of Salman Butt, selectors and attitude have certainly played their part. Butt was first called into the Pakistan team at the age of 19, but technical caveats forced his withdrawal and ushered in a period of forced breaks and sporadic playing success that has lasted almost five years.

It is not entirely accurate to claim Pakistan players are nicely handled. Misbah's is a glaring example. He wasn't really held back, a late starter in first-class cricket, he was given an opportunity in 2001 in New Zealand but then his chances vapourised like thin ether. Butt was brought into the Pakistan team in the full bloom of youthful innocence. Lack of systems, and presumably management's attitude didn't balance the equilibrium.

The rapid promotion of youth and mega contracts both central and with the Indian Premier League (IPL) and inability of the management to develop working systems, has brought with it all sorts of risks, prominent among which, are those of weakening the team by depriving it of its value and of causing possibly fatal damage to the confidence of the player himself. Pakistan's selectors have been as aware of these risks as anyone in recent months, but that hasnÝt always prevented them taking the punt when they felt confident of success.

Pakistan's 'failure' to promote and harness youth quickly though the selectors were mostly more willing than most to take a risk on teenage prodigies of unproven quality. Such brave selection policies, at times looking mindless must however, be seen against the background of a domestic structure so disorganised and inefficient that few Pakistanis would consider it a genuine breeding ground for international cricketers.

Now in spite of desperate attempts by the PCB, the properly functioning and thewell-resourced National Cricket Academy, no youngster with star qualities have emerged in recent times. Why could people like Saleem Malik, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Basit Ali, Rashid Latif, Moin Khan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Wasim Akram, Aaqib Javed, Waqar Younis even Mohammad Yousuf could come into view from the same stagnating systems? Why isn't it happening now? Most of Pakistan's young stars in the 1990s and early 2000s advanced through the national age group system and were thrown early into international cricket rather than left to go stale in domestic competitions that could add little to their development. Almost all of them survived baptism of fire, and currently we have seen, barring Misbah-ul-Haq new boys sinking without trace.

If Pakistan's selectors have been at fault over the last few years, it has mostly been through a failure to plan ahead with specific targets in mind. This is visible today with the continued selection at Test and international level of patchy performers like Kamran Akmal as wicket-keeper, and no high-quality replacement of Mohammad Yousuf, with only two years or so left in which to find someone taking his place and give a new man enough experience before Pakistan takes on greater teams like Australia in Australia etcetera.

The persistence with Shoaib Akhtar in spite of heaps of discipline and other issues and the curious determination to match him with an injury-prone high quality Mohammad Asif or Umar Gul, also means that even when Akhtar was fit enough to play, he was unable to assume his accustomed role as trustworthy spearhead. But, these are issues of policy rather than judgment and comparing like with like Pakistan's selection policies have not been too dissimilar from South Africa, where not the lack of systems but tinge of apartheid has, so frequently, compromised their quality as a world class team.

However, there is another element to the question of Pakistan's half-developers or under-performers, one which has remained a major talking point since Salman Butt stepped onto the international stage aged 19 in the summer of 2003. Butt, had been something of a prodigy at under-15 and under-19 levels, tipped for greatness and swift promotion to the senior side, but it didn't happen like that. His eventual selection five years ago was largely the result of a 'hunch' on the part of selectors. With Butt showing flair and flamboyance, it had stuck in their mind as evidence of a talent that ought to be employed on a higher stage.

If this was lucky for Butt, it was luckier still for the PCB. His breakthrough period was the winter of 2004, where he first hit an hundred against India at Eden Gardens in a One-day International and then went further by scoring a half-century and a maiden Test hundred in Sydney later in the year. For most of 2005, he failed to put together on that and in spite of another century in one-day cricket, also against India, skepticism about his defensive technique and overt recklessness drew in, resulting in him being inconsistently picked on the Pakistan team.

Butt's hundreds at the time were rare birds indeed and looked to be heading for dodo status. His career has been treading water eversince he turned 20. A first-class average of 41.65 is an ample justification of his talent and with age rapidly eroding his status as a promising youngster, it looks as if he might sink altogether. Not the incompetent man-managers and worthless exercises to keep people focused, first-class, as usual, has been receiving most of the blame. When Australia went through its own sticky patch back in the 1980s, there were few calls to overhaul the structure of the Sheffield Shield. More astutely, an invidious attitude of softness and lassitude was identified as having crept into players and coaches within the system. It did not take long for things to be turned around. Such faults as there were, were rare in the Australian character and easily exercised.

Faced with a similar problem, the Pakistan attitude has been to look for excuses, to blame the system, anything to avoid the unpleasant fact the fault lay primarily in human frailty. A generation of Pakistan cricketers has gone into the Test arena ready-armed with the excuse that they were under-prepared for the standards and pressures due to the weaknesses of first class cricket. And it never really mattered whether it was true or not; if they thought they were unprepared then the mental battle was lost already and thus unprepared they were.

With non-technocrats picked to run the board, failures have finally become a dreadful reality and the players be damned if they were going to take the blame themselves for their inability to cope at the highest level or make the most of their talent. But, what can cricket do when it comes to defects in the national character?



Kabaddi comes alive... on the beach and among women

Every sport needs innovation to keep thriving. The rules are amended, the formats are altered and new concepts are incorporated from time to time to make it more interesting for the people and lately for television in particular.

Kabaddi is an ancient game but it came alive recently with the initiatives of the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF). They organised the first-ever National Beach Kabaddi Championship at the Clifton Beach in Karachi and followed it up with an exhibition match between women, making history of sorts.

Both the events were facilitated by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK). The Executive District Officer of CDGK's Community Development Group of Offices, Rehana Saif, who also happens to be the President of the Sindh Kabaddi Association (SKA), was the driving force in both the landmark events.

"The City of Karachi has added yet another cap in its feather by hosting the 1st National Beach Kabaddi Championship. We are proud to be a part of the endeavour to further promote the popular game of kabaddi," she said in a chat with TNS.

"On the sidelines of the Beach Championship we also succeeded in organising the first-ever women kabaddi match in Pakistan. It was a most significant event and we are optimistic that this will open the door for women kabbadi activities in our country," Rehana Saif hoped.

"Both the events were important as Pakistan would participate in the inaugural Asian Beach Kabaddi Championship to be held from October 17 to 23 in Bali.  Hosts Indonesia, Iran, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea will be the other participating teams in what is expected to be a most thrilling kabaddi extravaganza," she reckoned.

"The PKF has sent a request to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Ministry of Sports, Government of Pakistan, for the recognition of women kabaddi. Their approval will lead the way of the women kabaddi team's participation in the upcoming events," she disclosed.

"The women event will be a part of the 1st Asian Beach Kabaddi Championship. The Iranian women team has already confirmed its participation. The women's kabaddi would also be part of the 11th South Asian Games in Bangladesh next year. So we have plenty of events coming up," the SKA President said.

"The PKF officials are trying their level best to promote the game in the region as well as in Pakistan. They plan to organise a minimum of three national events this year to promote kabaddi culture in the country. They are also assessing the possibilities of an Indo-Pak series in near future," she remarked.

Teams from hosts Karachi and Sukkur contested in the exhibition women kabbadi match, the first of its kind to be held in Pakistan. The contestants were enthusiastic in unfolding their kabaddi talents while retaining Islamic values. They participated with full trousers and scarves.

For the record, Karachi overpowered Sukkur but the result hardly mattered in a match that created history.

The Acting Nazim of Karachi, Nasreen Jaleel, who also witnessed the match, was thoroughly appreciative of the idea. In her brief speech on the occasion, she offered encouragement to the participants and urged them to work harder to win medals for the country in the long run.

Meanwhile Pakistan Army clinched the 1st National Beach Kabaddi Championship by outwitting Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in the final while WAPDA came third by rattling Pakistan Navy in the bronze medal match.

The other outfits to have entered the Championship were Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Police, Islamabad, Higher Education Commission (HEC), North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan.

Kabaddi, a team sport, is believed to have been originated from the Indo-Pak sub-continent. It is popular throughout South Asia, and has also spread to Southeast Asia, Japan and Iran. It is the national game of Bangladesh, and the state game of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra in India.

The name of kabaddi, often chanted during a game, is derived from a Hindi word, meaning "holding of breath", which is a crucial aspect of play. It is a game that requires both skill and stamina.

The sport has a long history dating back to pre-historic times. It was probably invented to ward off croup attacks by individuals and vice-versa. The game was very popular in the southern part of Asia played in its different forms under different names.

Kabaddi received its first International exposure during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, demonstrated by Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal. The game was introduced in the Indian Olympic Games at Calcutta, in the year 1938.

It was in 1950, that the All India Kabaddi Federation came into existence and it compiled a standard set of rules. The Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) came into being in 1968.

The Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF) was founded under the chairmanship of Sharad Pawar, who is also presently the chief of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The inagural Asian Kabaddi Championship was organised in 1980 and India emerged as the champion while Bangladesh ended as the runners-up. Bangladesh became runners-up again in 1985 in the Asian Kabaddi Championship held in Jaipur, India. The other teams included in the tournament were Nepal, Malaysia and Japan.

Kabaddi was included for the first time in the Asian Games held in Beijing in 1990. Eight countries took part including India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

India won the gold medal and has since won gold at the following three Asian Games in Hiroshima in 1994, Bangkok in 1998 and Busan in 2002. India again won the gold medal in the recently concluded 2006 Asian Games at Doha.

Attempts to popularise kabaddi in Great Britain saw British TV network Channel 4 commission a programme dedicated entirely to the sport. The show, entitled Kabaddi, was broadcast on Channel 4 in the early 1990s, but failed to capture the imagination of the British viewers, despite featuring high-profile fixtures such as West Bengal Police versus the Punjab.

In the 1998 Asian games the Indian kabaddi team defeated Pakistan in a thrilling final at Bangkok, Thailand.

The first-ever World Kabaddi Championship in the history of the game, was organised in Hamilton, Canada, when more than 14,000 people packed the Copps Coliseum to watch the top players from India, Pakistan, Canada, England, and the United States compete.

 Shoaib Akhtar:
An explosive response

Shoaib Akhtar's dazzling debut for the Kolkata Knight Riders looked more like scripted by some Hollywood genius who has a grudge with the chairman of the PCB.

Removing the top four batsmen of the Delhi Daredevils in an archetype spell from the Rawalpindi Express; Shoaib's spell was a testimony in itself that those who had advocated his return to competitive cricket and millions of his fans who stood by him in such a frustrating period were not wrong.

Rather, it were those authorities who grind the beautiful game between some insensible cricketing laws and mismanagement. It would be fitting to say that his debut in the Indian Premier League has launched the fiery paceman into an all-new avatar.

He did more damage to the board than the top-order of Delhi. Not only that, he also justified the fact that even after the emergence of Mohammad Asif and an improved Umar Gul, Shoaib remains the best and most feared bowler in Pakistan and he still has the potential to spearhead the national bowling arsenal.

It remains to be seen whether his performance can pressurise the cricket board to rethink the ban imposed on him and ultimately the national selection committee to consider bringing him back to the national team or will Shoaib's become the sole property of the Kolkata Knight Riders for eternity.

Shoaib's incredible performance not only helped in proving the policies of the PCB wrong and of the BCCI who could not allow him to play in the IPL for some reason, it paradoxically proved profitable for the Indian Premier League. Shoaib has a huge fan following, not only in Pakistan but in India and all over the world. Probably because he is one of a kind, not even Brett Lee had such an impact on the IPL as Shoaib had right from the word go; and this impact would provide the Premier League to become more attractive.

While Shoaib is basking under the glory of his brilliant debut, other Pakistani superstars are not having a really great time it seems across the border. Some are out of form while one or two are paying the price for being Pakistanis.

Pakistan's formidable middle order batsman Misbah-ul-Haq was regularly sidelined by his team Bangalore Royal Challengers. Bangalore are at the bottom of the league and they are almost out of the contention for a berth in the semis.

Yet, Bangalore Royal Challengers are not as overrated as Shahid Afridi's Deccan Chargers. The owners of this Hyderabad based team would probably understand now that too many explosive batsmen in a team isn't such a good recipe after all.

Afridi, whose dictionary lacks the word 'consistency', paid the price once again as he was left out after failing miserably in every attempt.

The hard-hitting batsman made tall claims before leaving for India that he would love to have a crack at Brendon McCullum's record breaking knock in the opening match. But, now it is a little too late; as the chance of survival for Deccan Chargers is really slim.

In the midst of all this, one Pakistani left-armer is definitely catching the eyes of cricket pundits around the world. Especially after his devastating six-wicket spell; Sohail Tanvir, has justified his selection for the Rajasthan Royals -- led by Shane Warne.

The money-spinning, Indian Premier League has successfully turned cricket in India on its head. But, there are certain players who are not getting their share of glory. English players are leading one-such list and if things go according to plans, ECB will introduce a lucrative T20 league of their own.

But, what matters is that the ECB can learn from the mistakes made by the BCCI, they can have a better policy for foreign players. Moreover cricket boards such as the PCB should support this cause in order to have a better representation than at the IPL.

 

 

 

 

 

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