ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) honorary secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz has confirmed that the federation is still awaiting to get clearance from World Squash Federation (WSF) and Professional Squash Association (PSA) for allowing Nasir Iqbal to play in the legends vs champions squash series between Pakistani and Egyptian top players on April 6 and 7 in Karachi.

Talking to The Nation, Amir said: “I have written letters to the WSF and the PSA and requested them to allow Nasir to play in the exhibition series, as he is under provisional ban. His one test was positive and other was negative. They have asked us to wait for 5 or 6 days prior to the decision.”

He said after detailed consultations and going through all the aspects, they had decided not to send Tahir Khanzada to India for Nasir’s B sample test, as visa process was too lengthy and Tahir or others had absolutely no role as sealed bottle would be sent to laboratory and report would be submitted in due course of time. “I have also talked to Indian authorities and conveyed them to go ahead with the test. I am sure Nasir will get the clean chit and would start his PSA upward journey very soon.”

Amir said: “I am quite hopeful, Nasir will get clearance to play but if it doesn’t happen, we have plan B to replace Nasir with Asim Khan. Off course, our team will be relatively weaker without Nasir, but with the likes of Farhan Zaman, Farhan Mahboob, Tayyab Aslam and young Asim Khan, I am sure our team will give tough time to Egyptians.” He confirmed that Egyptian top player Omar Mosaad Abouzid was injured and replaced by 25 M Abouleghar.

He said he had also inspected the newly-installed four-glass court at PAF Museum and it was fully operational. “Lights and other related equipment is fully ready, while minor paint and cleaning of glass is underway, which will be completed soon. It will be a grand occasion, as spectators and the world will watch top class squash in such a colourful environment, with PAF jet fighters standing in the background.”

When this scribe asked Amir whether Egyptians had shown concerns about prevailing law and order situation, Amir replied: “Yes, they have shown some reservations after Lahore attack, but I assured them blanket security will be provided to them which make them comfort and they are ready to visit us and play here. The series shall take place in Karachi and it will be a carnival. I am sure people of Karachi and Pakistan will come in numbers to watch world’s top players playing at their own backyard.”

He said according to plan, legends vs champions competitions would be held on April 6 and 7. “On the first day, world number 14 Ali Farag will take on world number 144 Asim Khan, in the second match on the same day, world number 17 Mazem Hesham will vie against world number 99 Shahjahan, who arrived from USA to represent Pakistan, while in the third match of the day, world number 7 Karim A Gawad will play against world number 75 Tayyab Aslam, followed by prize distribution ceremony at 9:30pm.

“On April 7, Tarek Momin will face Farhan Mehboob, while in the last match of the series, M Abouleghar will take on Farhan Zaman, followed by closing ceremony,” he added.

Amir said they had also decided to host local competitions on April 4 and 5. “On April 4, the competition between Mansoor Zaman and Abdul Malik, Zahab Khan and Noor ul Huda, Kashif Asif and Mehran Javed will be held, followed by prize distribution ceremony. On April 5, Abbas Shoukat will take on Kashif Asif in the first match, Israr Ahmed will face Syed Ali Mujtaba Bukhari and in female competition, Maria Toor Pakai Wazir will play against Sadia Gul, followed by prize distribution ceremony,” he added.

“Besides chief guest, squash legends Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan, Qamar Zaman, dignitaries and squash lovers will also grace the historic occasion. We have installed around 800 seats to accommodate the spectators,” Amir concluded.