November 21, 2011

Mohammad Asif wins Del Monte snooker title, Imran Shahzad’s contract renewed


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Seventh seed Mohammad Asif clinched the Del Monte 4th Ranking Snooker Championship 2011 by hammering unseeded Sharjeel Mahmood in the final at the Southend Club in Karachi on November 20.

Asif, hailing from Faisalabad, faced no problems in overcoming Sharjeel, giant-killer from Hairpur, in the best of 13-frame final, winning it 7-2 with the scores of 99-24, 83-25, 65-50, 73-29, 97-22, 42-78, 63-39, 51-77, 107-1.

The prize distribution ceremony, in which cash awards of Rs 130,000 were disbursed, was held at the same venue later in the afternoon in which Anjum Nisar, Managing Director, Anjum Asif (Pvt) Ltd, was the chief guest.

During his speech, he announced the renewal of contract for another year for Imran Shahzad, who was been employed by Anjum Asif Ltd, for the last couple of years.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), described the six-day Championship as a big success with some of the youngsters playing really smartly to clinch top positions.

Mohammad Asif collected a purse of Rs 60,000 for winning the title while runner-up Sharjeel Mahmood was presented Rs 35,000. Imran Shahzad and Mohammad Sajjad received Rs 15,000 each for the being the losing semifinalists while a further reward of Rs 5,000 for the former for recording the highest break of the competition (103).

After some grueling matches on the past five days, the final, being telecast live, didn’t produce turn to be a tough contest with the more experienced Asif proving simply too good for Sharjeel.

Asif, who had captured the national crown in 2009, picked up from where he had left when he had toppled top seed and defending champion, Imran Shahzad, in the semifinals, less than 24 hours ago.

Sharjeel, on the other hand, after having eliminated the dangerous Mohammad Sajjad in the semifinals, could not extend glorious run in his maiden appearance in the final of a national ranking event.

Asif was in total command of the situation in the final from the word go and he didn’t let his fancied opponent settle down. He ran into 2-0 lead rather comfortably. He faced some resistance in the third frame but won it in the end. He pocketed the next couple of frames as well to make it 5-0.

Sharjeel prevented a whitewash by taking the sixth frame but Asif recovered quickly to win the seventh frame. Sharjeel showed glimpses of his top form when he made a clearance to win the eighth frame but Asif closed the matter by grabbing the ninth frame.

It was the fourth and final national ranking tournament of the current year. In fact it was first time in fours that the cash-starved PBSA was able to revive this tradition.

With the willing sponsors like Jubilee Insurance and Del Monte prepared to extend greater support to the sport of snooker, the PBSA has indicated holding more competitions in the coming year.

The immediate cause of concern of the PBSA, however, was the first round exit of second seed Asif Toba, who has been selected to represent the country in the IBSF World Snooker Championship 2011, starting in the Indian city of Bangalore later this month.

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