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Asjad topples Asif to win snooker crown Back To Main


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Syed Khalid Mahmood

KARACHI: Unseeded Asjad Iqbal trounced top seeded Mohammad Asif in the all-Punjab final to win the fourth edition of the NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2012 which concluded here at the Defence Authority Creek Club on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old youngster from Sargodha showed greater resilience than his fancied rival from Faisalabad to win the best of 13-frame encounter — lasting five hours — 7-4 with the scores of 83-33, 76-31, 84-41, 72-51, 42-65, 31-76, 93-1, 49-77, 26-89, 73-22, 93-0.

The final was televised live on Geo Super.

The title clash between Asjad and Asif produced snooker of the highest class. The match got underway at a few minutes past nine in the morning and there were fireworks from the outset.

Asjad, who has been tutored by Mohammad Sajjad, two times national champion, was not overawed by the big occasion and continued playing the game that saw him advance to the final against the heaviest of odds.

Asif, the reigning national champion who represented the country in the Asian Snooker Championship in Doha recently, was unable to tackle the tactics of the youngster who stunned everyone by pocketing the first four frames. Asjad grew in confidence as he chalked up a break of 51 in the third frame.

Asif fought back and grabbed the next couple of frames to reduce the deficit.

After a 30-minute break in the game, Asjad fired a break of 52 which allowed him to run away with the seventh frame to inch closer to victory. Asif, however, kept the match alive by taking the next two frames and the deficit was down to just one frame.

Asjad, one of the products of the junior circuit, showed great maturity by not succumbing under pressure and availing himself of the chances coming his way. He snatched the ninth frame to make it 6-4.

He was at the top of his game in the eleventh frame which also proved to be the last one. He seemed on his way to finishing it off with a century but missed a sitter soon after completing half-century. Asif failed to capitalise on the lapse, though, and Asjad closed the deal on his very next visit to the table.

Qamar Hussain, Executive Vice President, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), presented the winner’s trophy to Asjad alongwith a cheque of Rs65,000. Asif received a cheque of Rs35,000 with the runners-up shield. Sultan Mohammad got a purse of Rs5,000 for registering the highest break of the nine-day championship.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), in his welcome address, desired greater support for cue sports from the financial institutions of the country, urging them to offer employment to cueists.

Iqbal Qasim, Head of NBP Sports & CSR Division, announced that his bank, which paid the PBSA a sum of Rs850,000 as sponsorship fee for the event, would continue to sponsor the championship.