By Syed Khalid Mahmood
The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex, located here in Karachi’s posh area of Clifton right at the edge of the Arabian Sea, is set to become the newest cue sports venue by hosting the Langnese 4th Snooker Cup Ranking Tournament 2012 getting underway on September 30.
The Karachi Club, the Karachi Gymkhana and the Haji Abdullah Haroon Muslim Gymkhana have been the oldest venues for the national snooker tournaments in the city while the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Sports Complex, Southend Club and Defence Authority Creek Club have also hosted a few events in the recent past.
The NBP Sports Complex, spread over 5.5 acres of land, houses a cricket ground with pavilion, cricket academy, international standard squash courts, indoor tennis and badminton courts, covered swimming pool, snooker and table tennis halls besides a well-equipped health club.
Iqbal Qasim, a former Test left-arm spinner who is currently chairman of cricket's national selection committee, has played the pivotal in its development as the sports and CSR divisional chief of the NBP.
Since its inception the NBP Sports Complex has been more famous for hosting cricket activities with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) having approved the ground as a venue for first-class tournaments.
Now the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), by scheduling the Langnese 4th Snooker Cup Ranking Tournament 2012 at the NBP Sports Complex from September 30 to October 6, has added it in the list of venues for the national ranking snooker events.
The details about the seven-day tournament, to be contested by the top 24 cueists of the country, were unveiled by Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, in a media briefing held at the Karachi Gymkhana on September 26.
Anjum Nisar, ex-President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), and Managing Director, Anjum Asim & Company, the sponsors of the event, was also present on the occasion alongwith the NBP officials, Anwar Khan and Ghulam Mohammad Khan.
The tournament offers prize money of Rs 165,000 with the winner to take home Rs 70,000 and the runner-up to collect Rs 40,000 each. The losing semifinalists will be getting Rs 15,000 each while the losing quarter-finalists will be receiving Rs 5,000 each. The highest break award carries a purse of Rs 5,000.
The participating cueists have been divided equally in four groups which will allow them to play five league matches. The knockout phase will start with the quarter-finals.
Top seed and defending champion Mohammad Asif has been placed in Group A alongwith eighth seed Sharjeel Mahmood, Abdul Sattar, Mohammad Imran, Umair Alam and Bilawal Agha whilesecond seed Asjad Iqbal and seventh seed Sohail Shahzad have been drawn in Group B in the company of Mohammad Majid, Vishan Gir, Mohammad Afzal and Mohammad Ishtiaq.
Third seed Sultan Mohammad and sixth seed Mohammad Sajjad feature in Group C with the likes of Shahid Aftab, Imran Shahzad, Abu Saim and Mohammad while the Group D contains fourth seed Khurram Hussain Agha and fifth seed Shehram Changezi besides Mohammad Javed, Naveen Kumar Perwani, Mohammad Yousuf and Mohammad Nazir.
It will be the fourth and final national ranking competition of the year and the top two ranked cueists will be representing the country in the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2012 to be staged in Sofia, Bulgaria, from November 24 to December 2.