August 18, 2011

Imran Shahzad soars to top position after winning NBP Trophy


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Imran Shahzad, after having emerged triumphant in the recently concluded 3rd NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2011, has become the top ranked cueist of the country.

Imran, ranked number two previously, has displaced Shahid Aftab, who has now gone sliding to an embarrassingly low 10th position following his dismal performance in the last event, in the latest national ranking chart issued by the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA).

Sohail Shahzad, who ended runner-up in the NBP-sponsored tourney, has moved to the second position, after having been ranked fifth earlier. Mohammad Sajjad, who skipped the second national ranking tournament with the consent of the PBSA, has retained the third position while Mohammad Asif, the 2009 national champion, has moved forward from fifth to fourth slot.

Sultan Mohammad, who was ranked fourth earlier, has slipped to fifth position while Abdul Sattar has leapfrogged from 16th position to number six in the ranking chart.

Naveen Kumar Perwani, one of the most experienced cueists of the country, has now moved down to seventh position after having been ranked sixth earlier. Abdul Sattar, at the strength of his fine performance in the last tournament, has jumped from 13th position to eighth.

Imran Shahzad had whipped Sohail Shahzad in the final of the 3rd NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2011 at the Karachi Club. Imran extended his brilliant form in the final to dominate the best of 15-frame encounter, blanking his rival in straight frames with the scores of 92-24, 55-11, 74-10, 68-10, 62-4, 59-36, 54-37, 65-28.

Imran forced Sohail to submission with combination of aggressive potting and solid defence. It was only the second time in recent history when a best of 15-frame national ranking final was decided in straight frames.

The Lahore-based Imran was in total command of the situation, chalking up breaks of 22, 30, 46, 30, 43 and 53 in successive frames to unnerve the local finalist, who had to pay heavy price for not making the most of the limited opportunities that came his way.

Imran not only became richer by Rs 60,000 which came along the glittering trophy, he was also promised employment by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), whose Senior Executive Vice President and Group Head, Human Resource Management, Dr Mirza Abrar Baig, was the chief guest in the prize distribution ceremony.

Dr Mirza Abrar Baig, having recruited the then Pakistan number one, Mohammad Sajjad, a couple of years ago, committed to consider the case of giving a job at the bank to Imran Shahzad as well.

He also announced to enhance the sponsor fee for the fourth edition of the NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2012 from Rs 0.8 million to Rs one million.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), in his welcome speech, while acknowledging the support of NBP in the promotion of snooker, had urged the bank management to employ greater number of cueists in their folds.

Former Test left-arm spinner and Head of NBP’s CSR Division, Iqbal Qasim, was also present in the ceremony alongwith the Karachi Club top officials, Shahnawaz Khan and Yousuf Suleman, and Vice President of the PBSA, Jawed Karim.

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