Monday March 27, 2023

Sultan pips Naimat to win National Snooker title

January 04, 2023

KARACHI: The 40-year old Sultan Muhammad, hailing from Karachi, was crowned as the new snooker king of the country as he overcame the resilient Shah Naimat, a qualifier from Islamabad, in the final of the NBP 47th National Snooker Championship 2023 here at the NBP Sports Complex in Clifton on Tuesday.

Pakistan was set to have a new national champion as both the finalists were taking the field for a title clash for the first time in their career. As anticipated, a grueling and absorbing battle took place for the trophy in which fortunes fluctuated like a pendulum with Sultan, no less than a dozen years senior to his opponent, won the marathon encounter 7-5 with the frame scores of 69-58, 16-105, 86-24, 4-85, 21-72, 32-70, 69-30, 61-39, 56-21, 62-41, 53-66, 69-0.

Both the finalists were mostly content in adopting cautious approach. The opening frame set the tone as it went to the wire with Sultan just able to win it after a tense fight. Shan showed some enterprise while chalking up a break of 95 in the second frame but Sultan regained lead by pocketing the third frame.

Another masterly break of 85 enabled Shan to equalize by winning the fourth frame and he sustained the momentum by claiming the next two frames as well which gave him 4-2 lead in the best of 13-frame contest.

Sultan pulled it back forcefully by snatching four frames in a row to make move into 6-4 lead. But Shan refused to give up and kept the contest alive by inching ahead in the closely fought 11th frame. There was no stopping Sultan, however, as he sealed the deal by winning the 12th frame.

The final, stretched to almost seven and a half hours, was followed by the prize distribution in which a record prizemoney of Rs 525,000 was disbursed among the top performers of the event. which witnessed plethora of upsets leading to the elimination of all eight seeded cueists before the title clash.

Rehmat Ali Hasnie, President, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), who was the chief guest on the occasion, presented a handsome purse of Rs two lacs to Sultan with the winner’s trophy while runner-up Shan was awarded Rs one lac. Shahid Aftab collected a cash award of Rs 25,000 for registering the highest break (141) of the championship.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Chairman, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), in his welcome address, acknowledged the support of all the stakeholders in promoting cue sports despite the crunch situation. The top officials of the PBSA as well as the NBP sports division were in attendance during the ceremony.