KARACHI: Country’s top cueists will return to competitive rivalry when the 12th National Bank of Pakistan Ranking Snooker Championship cues off on Tuesday at the bank’s sports complex after six-month layoff due to Covid-19 pandemic.

This is second event of the domestic circuit after the 45th National Snooker Championship held in February.

The details of the annual event were announced at a press conference held at a local hotel on Wednesday.

Addressing the press briefing NBP’s senior vice-president Javed Ashraf said that Pakistan is the land of snooker and enjoy an enviable record.

He said the bank’s president is keen in promotion of sports and assured to continue institutional support to the game.

The Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Federation (PBSF) president Munawwar Hussain Sheikh said all competing cueists have ben asked to go through Covid-19 tests before entering the event.

“The provincial associations will bear the tests cost of their players and the PBSF will lend support if anyone will come without going through the SOP’s directives,” he told a questioner.

Yet to another question he said the government has not released any annual or special grant in the last financial year and only doled out Rs2m exclusively for the benefit of players barring to spend it on administrative and other needs.

Former president Alamgir Shaikh paid compliments to former bank’s sports head Iqbal Qasim for his whole-hearted support to the game since the launch of NBP Cup.

He disclosed the PBSF had written several letters to Dr Fehmida Mirza [ertaining to Asif’s case but in vain.

Arshad Husain, incharge of NBP Sports Complex, also spole.

Meanwhile, three juniors will join top 32 players in the contest that concludes on Oct six.

The three juniors includes National U-16 runner-up Zubair Tahir, National U-18 runner-up Umer Khan and National U-21 champion Haris Tahir.

A sum of Rs100,000 is at offer for winner and Rs40,000 for runner-up. Mohammad Asif will defend his crown.

Groups:

A: Mohammad Asif (Punjab), Rambel Gul (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Bahadur Khan (Balochistan), Umer Farooq (Phnjab),

B: Shahid Aftab (Punjab), Mohammad Bilal (Punjab), Mohammad Ali (Sindh), Sheikh Mohammad Mudassir (Punjab).

C: Asjad Iqbal (Punjab), Mohammad Saleem (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Asif Toba (Punjab), Mohammad Ajmal (Punjab),

D: Mohammad Ahsan Javaid (Punjab), Zulfiqar A. Qadir (Sindh), M. Jawed Ansari (Sindh), Ali Hamza (Sindh),

E: Babar Masih (Punjab), Mohammad Sajjad (Punjab), Abdul Sattar (Sindh), Mohammad Majid Ali (Punjab),

F: Mubashir Raza (Punjab), Sohail Shehzad (Sindh), Ahsan Ramzan (Punjab), Saad Khan (Punjab), Zubair Tahir (Punjab),

G: Mohammad Naseem Akhtar (Punjab), Hamza Akbar (Punjab), Rana Irfan (Punjab), Sharjeel Mehmood (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Umer Khan (Punjab),

H: Ali Haider (Punjab), Mohammad Ijaz (Punjab), Aakash Rafique (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Agha Bilawal (Sindh), Haris Tahir (Punjab).

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020