KARACHI: The 44th National Snooker Championship is finally set to begin at the Karachi Gymkhana Billiards Hall on Wednesday, president Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Federation (PBSF) Munawwar Hussain Shaikh announced at a press conference at the Karachi Gymkhana on Monday.
As many as 56 players will vie for the honours in the event which was initially supposed to take place from Feb 3 to 13 but was postponed for a month due to the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League which ended on Sunday.
Top 11 players of the latest national ranking, 10 from Punjab, nine from Sindh, eight each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, four from Islamabad, four juniors and two wildcard participants will feature in the championship.
The junior quartet includes reigning U-21 champion Ali Haider, U-18 champion Sheikh M. Mudassir, U-16 champion Hamza Ilyas and U-18, U-21 semi-finalists Ahsan Ramzan.
The two wildcards are the 2017 Men’s World Snooker Championship pre quarter-finalist Mubashir Raza and last year’s Asian U-21 Snooker Championship semi-finalist Mohammad Shahbaz.
Mohammad Asif Toba of Punjab, who is among the top 12 cueists of the country, will not take part in the event due to a domestic problem, the PBSF chief said.
Punjab and Sindh have been allowed to field two and one extra players respectively on request.
Answering a question pertaining to participation in Asian U-21 Snooker Championship slated to take place at Chandigarh, India from April 26 to May 2, the PBSF chief said “we’ve informed the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) about the prevailing tension between the two nations.”
‘We’ve also informed Islamabad and will go by what our government says,’ added Shaikh.
Meanwhile, former world amateur snooker champion Mohammad Asif, who came at loggerheads with the PBSF over not signing the 2019 central contract and had to pay the price, will defend his crown.
It is pertinent to mention that the pair of Asif and Babar Masih were penalised by the PBSF and failed to defend their world 6-Reds team event title after being dropped from the Marsa Alam-bound team.
The event carries total prize money of Rs2,72,000 with the winner to recieve Rs100,000 and the runner-up Rs50,000.
At the outset, managing director of Jubilee Insurance Tahir Ahmed, who has motivated the PBSF officials to launch national U-16 event in the recent past, vowed to continue his support to the baize game.
‘Snooker is the second most sought after game in the country after cricket which is evident from its public support,” he added.
Former PBSF President Alamgir Shaikh also spoke on the occasion and lamented on government’s apathy over not releasing of grants to the national federations.
A: Babar Masih (Punjab), Mohammad Mudassir (Islamabad), Rabish Pervez (Balochistan), Farhan Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Fazal Umar Butt (Sindh), Mohammad Naseem Akhtar (Punjab) and Mohammad Shahbaz (Punjab)..
B: Mohammad Asif (Punjab), M. Hamza Ilyas (Punjab), Sirbuland Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Asjad Iqbal (Punjab), M. Rizwan Hashmi (Sindh), Samiullah (Balochistan) and Mubashir Raza (Punjab).
C: Zulfiqar A. Qadir (Sindh), Shaikh M. Mudssir (Punjab), Amir Tariq (Punjab), Musaddiq Mehmood (Islamabad), Bahadur Khan (Balochistan), Fawad Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Imran Shehzad (Punjab).
D: Mohammad Majid Ali (Punjab), Ahsan Ramzan (Punjab), Sultan Mohammad (Sindh), Saif Ali Khan (Balochistan), Abdul Jalil (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), M. Imran Qamar (Punjab) and Ali Raza (Sindh).
E: Mohammad Bilal (Punjab), Ali Haider (Punjab), Abdul Raziqm (Balochistan), Mohammad Saleem (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mirza Waqas Baig (Punjab), Farukh Usman (Sindh) and, Rashid Aziz (Punjab).
F: Sharjeel Mehmood (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Haris Tahir (Punjab), Shafiullah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Abdul Majid (Sindh), Saeed Khan (Balochistan), M. Ahsan Javaid (Punjab) and Danish Haroon (Sindh).
G: Shahid Aftab (Punjab), Mohammad Ijaz (Punjab), Abdul Sattar (Sindh), Mohammad Sajjad (Punjab). Ameer Hamza Khan (Islamabad), S. Habib Shah (Balochistan) and Amir Sohail (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
H: Rambel Gul (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Aakash Rafique (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Abu Saim (Punjab), Munawar Khaliq (Islamabad), Sohail Shehzad (Sindh), Amir Shehzad (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Abdul Hameed (Balochistan).
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019