KARACHI: Former IBSF world champion Mohammad Asif’s resurgent form bore fruit as an impressive fightback helped him beat Mohammad Sajjad 8-7 in the 7th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship final at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi on Tuesday.
As announced earlier by the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA), the finalists will head to Egypt for the IBSF World Championship next month.
The match was befitting of a final as there was very little to choose between the two top players.
Read: 7th NBP Ranking Championship Veterans Asif, Sajjad to battle for title
The first frame set the tone for the rest of the match as Sajjad won by just seven points to go 1-0 up. Asif fought back in yet another close affair to make the score 1-1, after which Sajjad restored his one-frame advantage before Asif hit back to equalise the score with a 104-point break.
However, Sajjad ensured that he remained in control as he won two consecutive frames to build a comfortable lead of 4-2.
Asif managed to lock the scoreline at 5-5, but his determined opponent refused to give up and gained a 7-5 lead.
With the match slipping away, Asif broke away to shift the momentum with another splendid 104-point break to keep himself alive at 7-6 and then made it 7-7 to take the match into the decider.
Read: National snooker championship Asif, Sajjad register comfortable wins
The Faisalabad-based cueist then took command of the final frame and won almost without any resistance. The final scores stood at 70-77, 80-62, 27-70, 104-0 (104), 37-90 (57), 58-64, 67-39 (50), 33-71, 59-46, 60-50, 27-69, 27-76, 104-0 (104), 74-43, 74-01 in Asif’s favour.
Sajjad said he lost to a worthy opponent and has no regrets as it was an outstanding final. “I don’t feel bad about losing. I had my moments but couldn’t capitalise,” Sajjad told The Express Tribune. “One couldn’t have asked for a better final than this. Now our focus is on the World Championship.”
PBSA uncertain over third player
According to the IBSF World Championship rules, each country can field up to three players in the men’s category in the mega event from November 9-21 in Hurghada, Egypt.
However, when the PBSA was asked who the third player would be, they replied that the decision would be taken by the executive committee subject to the availability of funds.
It has been learnt that if the association decides to send a third player, the selection would be made by the executive body.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.
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