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October 16, 2019

Old guard reigns supreme over young brigade in snooker tourney


October 16, 2019

KARACHI: The old guard reigned supreme over the young brigade as the knockout rounds commenced in the 3rd Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2019 here at the Karachi Gymkhana on Tuesday.

In the quarter-finals, Sohail Shahzad, the local favourite, dethroned Babar Masih. Muhammad Bilal, the current national champion, edged out Muhammad Ijaz, a rising star from Sargodha.

Muhammad Asif, a former world champion, upstaged Asjad Iqbal, a prolific youngster. Muhammad Sajjad, three-time national champion, came from behind to elbow out Abdul Sattar, who had looked in awesome form in the preliminary rounds.

Both the best-of-nine-frame semi-finals will get underway simultaneously at 10 am on Wednesday (today). Muhammad Sajjad will take on Muhammad Bilal in an all-Punjab affair. Sohail Shahzad of Sindh will confront Muhammad Asif of Punjab.

The week-long event ends on Thursday (tomorrow) with the best-of-13-frame final to be telecast live by Geo Television Network.

Three of the four quarter-finals went to the full distance of nine frames and the match between defending champion Babar Masih and Sohail Shahzad turned out to be the longest one. Sohail extended his brilliant form of the preliminary rounds to contain the free-flowing Babar before eventually overcoming him 5-4 with the frame scores of 86-39, 31-71, 60-30, 19-72, 63-35, 10-92, 33-60, 104-8, 44-13.

Fortunes fluctuated dramatically in the battle between the two southpaws. Sohail fired breaks of 75, 53 and 53 during the course of the marathon encounter while Babar produced a couple of breaks of 53. There was everything to play for in the decisive ninth frame and it was Sohail who controlled it from the outset and won the day.

Muhammad Sajjad shattered the dream of Abdul Sattar, taming him 5-4 after trailing 3-4. He won with the frame scores of 77-32, 1-87, 05-65, 76-48, 89-49, 8-83, 46-82, 59-19, 71-30.

Sattar, who had played superbly in the preliminary rounds, appeared coasting into the semi-finals until Sajjad staged a grand recovery, showing composure and class under pressure.

Sajjad’s younger brother, Ijaz, was however, edged out by Bilal, the reigning national champion, who won the quarter-final tie 5-4 with the frame scores of 0-113, 23-83, 68-52, 78-0, 70-12, 21-94, 65-31, 0-73, 61-22.

Ijaz got off to a sensational start, compiling breaks of 57 and 70 to run into 2-0 lead quickly. Bilal hit back to take the next three frames. Ijaz equalised by pocketing the sixth frame with a break of 78. Bilal took the seventh frame. Ijaz restored parity again by claiming the eighth frame. But it was Bilal who clinched the decisive ninth frame.

Asif faced no problems in disposing of third seed Asjad, winning the all-Punjab quarter-final 5-2 with the frame scores of 76-29, 23-68, 36-65, 86-49, 65-59, 57-45, 56-48.

Earlier, in the preliminary round matches, Shahid Aftab (Punjab) defeated Hamza Ilyas (Punjab) 4-1 with the scores of 90-8, 76-6, 65-50, 22-57, 78-14.

Asif (Punjab) overpowered Ahsan Javaid (Punjab) 4-1 with the scores of 50-81, 136-8, 71-62, 59-8, 91-0.

Ijaz (Punjab) outwitted Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir (Sindh) 4-3 with the scores of 64-37, 5-72, 0-92, 60-21, 31-88, 90-10, 75-4.

Asjad (Punjab) overcame Naseem Akhtar (Punjab) 4-3 with the scores of 18-71, 65-51, 67-66, 60-52, 4-84,11-64, 68-63.

Bilal (Punjab) outsmarted Mubashir Raza (Punjab) 4-2 with the scores of 67-66, 73-55, 1-79, 70-62, 50-58, 92-0.