Imran set to defend crown in ranking snooker
KARACHI: After dominating the circuit for most part of the preceding year, former Pakistan No 1 and defending champion Imran Shehzad, who has been relegated to 13th spot in the national ranking, meets Mohammad Ishtiaq in the group ‘D’ opener of the fourth NBP ranking snooker championship which gets into action at DA Creek Club on Monday.
Imran chalked up a crushing 8-0 victory over Sohail Shehzad in the final to land the NBP crown last year. He followed up that victory by winning the next ranking event — the third NJI Cup — before making an unceremonious exit in the last-16 round of the fourth and last ranking event.
Despite defeat, he ended the year as country’s top cueist. Earlier, at the outset, he finished runner-up to qualifier Shahid Aftab in the 36th national’s.
National champion Mohammad Asif, who heads the national ranking, faces Shehram Changezi in the opening fixture of group ‘A’. The former had won back-to-back titles — the fourth Del Monte Cup last year and the 37th national’s earlier this year.
Veteran world amateur champion Mohammad Yousuf, who previously used to represent Sindh, is now representing Punjab in the circuit as he moved to the province to make ends meet. The 37th national’s were the first event when he changed his province.As many as 41 players including two wildcards will be vying for honours in the second ranking event of the year which concludes on May 29.
Mohammad Asif (Punjab) v Shehram Changezi (Islamabad), Sultan Mohammad (Sindh) v Yasir Shehzad (KP), Mohammad Sajjad (Punjab) v M. Naeem Jaffer (Balochistan), Naveen Perwani (Sindh) v Hunain Aamir (Punjab) at 10am; Abdul Sattar (Sindh) v Abdul Raziq (Balochistan), Sohail Shehzad (Sindh) v Mohammad Yousuf (Punjab), Vishan Gir (Sindh) v Abdul Rauf Kurd (Balochistan), Sharjeel Mehmood (KP) v Mohammad Asif Toba (Punjab) at 12noon; Asjad Iqbal (Punjab) v Ali Raza (Punjab), Farhan Noor (Punjab) v Mohammad Akmal (Sindh), Shah Khan (KP) v Rambel Gul (KP), Imran Shehzad (Punjab) v Mohammad Ishtiaq (Sindh) at 2pm; Abu Saim (Punjab) v Mohammad Bilal (Punjab), Mohammad Imran (Punjab) v Javed Ansari (Sindh), Mohammad Afzal (Punjab) v Zahoor Ahmed (Balochistan), Khurram Hussain Agha (Sindh) v Farrukh Usman (Sindh) at 4pm; Umair Alam (Sindh) v Yasir Nadeem (Islamabad) at 6pm.