“The lockdown has helped me a lot to regain my focus."
The Betfred World Snooker Championship Qualifiers 2020 shoots off from July 21 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
The qualifiers lasting eight days until July 28, 2020 will feature Desi players, along with some big names from the world of snooker.
The Desi players include two British Asians and one from the sub-continent. They include professionals Kishan Hirani (WAL) and Hammad Miah (ENG).
Former professional snooker player, Hamza Akbar completes the trio line up. All three have immense talent, but have yet to prove themselves on snooker’s biggest stage.
They will be competing amongst 128 players, fighting to claim one of the 16 places that are up for grabs.
Hamza, Hammad and Kishan will be hoping to win four consecutive matches to qualify for the final stages at the crucible theatre between July 31-August 16, 2020.
The draw for the World Snooker Championship Qualifiers was unveiled earlier on July 10, 2020. The draw features 94 players that rank below the top 16 and 34 Amateur players.
The big names that also feature in the qualifiers include two former world champions – Ken Doherty (IRL) and Graeme Dott (SCO).
The first three rounds will be best of 11. Round four will be contested as a best of 19 frames.
We preview the chances of the three Desi players and their exclusive thoughts on the World Snooker Championship Qualifiers 2020.
Kishan Hirani is a left-handed snooker player who was born in Cardiff, Wales on June 2, 1992.
The Welsh cueist will be travelling to the north for the challenging World Championship qualifiers. He is hoping to qualify for the final stages.
Taking inspiration from his parents, Kishan became the 2012 Welsh Under-21 champion. He is also three times winner of the Cardiff Open (2012-213, 2014-2015, 2016-2017)
Additionally, Kishan earned a two-year tour card on the main professional snooker circuit after defeating Simon Bedford 4-2 at the 2018 Q-School.
Kishan has a tricky first-round match against former professional snooker player Robin Hull (FIN). Speaking about his preparations, mood, opponent and game, Kishan said:
“I’m feeling confident about the World Championship Qualifiers. I’ve been putting hard work in on the practice table.
“I have also been working with my coach John Farnworth on the mental side of things.
“I see no reason why I can’t qualify for the crucible or I would not enter the tournament. It is all about taking your chances and handling certain situations correctly.
“I’ve drawn Robin Hull who’s got years of experience being on the tour. It’s one of the more difficult opponents I could’ve faced with me being a seeded player.
“However, it does not really matter, as long as I play how I know I can, I fancy beating anyone.”
“As for my game, it’s in really good shape. Even though during these times preparation has been slightly different, I’m happy with how everything has gone. I cannot wait to get going.”
With his place on the main tour in jeopardy, Kishan will be going out all guns blazing. During the 2019-2020 season, his best performance was a second round finish at the Scottish Open.
Hammad Miah is a right-handed English snooker player of Bangladeshi origin. He was born in Edmonton, London on July 6, 1993.
Hammad heads up north for the gruelling challenge that he faces. He wants to succeed and make history.
In terms of playing, Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan is a player that he always looks up to. Over the years Hammad has won many snooker tournaments at an amateur level.
He won the Under-21 series in England, which went across 6 events, granting him a spot at a world tournament in China.
Playing in the World Under-21 Championships in China, at 18 and finishing 3rd gave him the hunger to excel in the sport.
In his first attempt, he made it through the Q-School to earn a 2-years place on the main professional tour from 2013.
Despite dropping off the main tour a few times, he went on to reclaim his place during 2016-2017 and 2018-2020.
He has beaten several top players in his career. This includes narrowly overcoming 2019 World Snooker champion Judd Trump 4-3 as part of the 2015-2016 European Tour events.
After coming back from 0-3 and 3-5, Hammad also beat Tom Ford 6-5 in the first round of the 2017 UK Championships.
Hammad has a relatively easier first-round game against Austrian Florian Nuble. Sharing his thoughts about the qualifiers, including why his motivation is high, Hammad says:
“When I saw the draw, I was very excited. The player that I’ve drawn in the first round, he’s a very young, talented player from Austria. So I looked at the draw and I thought to myself that I have a chance.
“My preparation has been really good so far. It’s been very positive. I’ve been getting a lot of match practice with fellow professionals and my game is in good stead.
“The lockdown has helped me a lot to regain my focus. Plus World Snooker is offering a two-year tour card if you get to the crucible.
“This has made the tournament more elegant and more catchy to us as players because there’s more to play for. There’s a lot more at stake now.
“So this is basically a great chance for players like myself and others in my position.”
Hammad will have to be at his very best, including keeping his focus, avoiding any distraction and zooming in when it is necessary.
Hamza Akbar is a right-handed Pakistani snooker player. He was born in Faisalabad, Pakistan on November 12, 1993.
Hamza is on a major mission to reach Sheffield in time for his first-round match. His opening game is scheduled for Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
Racing against the clock, he has a golden opportunity to show his true talent.
In 2013, Hamza came into the limelight, becoming the youngest ever National Champion. However, his proudest moment came when winning gold at the 2015 Asian Games.
In a tense final, he was 7-6 triumphant over arch-rival Pankaj Advani. Subsequently, Hamza went on to receive a place on the main World Snooker tour, claiming an initial two-year card.
He then also got a further two-year extension due to a special dispensation.
Hamza lost his place on the main tour in 2019. He made the last 32 of a ranking tournament three times between 2018-2019.
Hamza was selected for the draw after being amongst the top 8 players in the Q-School Order of Merit 2019.
He has a favorable draw for the first-round, playing against professional snooker player Amine Amiri from Morocco. Further rounds will be more of an uphill task, but not impossible:
“I am confident that I can beat my opponent in the first round. But you can never take any player easy. This is because if I win, my second match will be against a ranking champion Martin Gould (ENG).
“So I will be ready for that match as well. For the past month, I have been practicing hard and working on my cue action.
“My body language is also more positive and I have made improvements in my table walk.”
Hamza is in top form, having won a top 16 tournament in Pakistan during the lockdown. A convincing attitude and a bit of luck is the key for Hamza.
Fans throughout Pakistan can watch the World Snooker Championship Qualifiers and main event on the new sports platform Matchroom.Live.