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October 18, 2019

Asif downs Sajjad to clinch Ranking Snooker title


October 18, 2019

KARACHI: Top-seeded Muhammad Asif warmed up for having another go at the world crown by emerging triumphant against Muhammad Sajjad in the final of the 3rd Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2019 here at the Karachi Gymkhana on Thursday.

The 2012 world champion, Asif, who will be proceeding to Turkey later this month to try to annex the marquee title for the second time, overpowered Sajjad 7-4 in the best-of-13-frame final with the scores of 61-53, 64-63, 36-78, 13-89, 83-27, 11-54, 38-61, 69-49, 69-64, 55-13, 68-14.

The final between the two vastly-experienced cueists, possessing big match temperament, turned out to be an absorbing contest despite Asif enjoying a psychological advantage over Sajjad, whom he had also outwitted in the preliminary rounds.

The 37-year-old Asif, hailing from the industrial town of Faisalabad, had to bring all his expertise into play to overcome the 33-year-old Sajjad, belonging to Sargodha, who has been a former world number two. The match lasted no less than four-and-a-half hours.

Asif, who looked supremely confident throughout the match, was delighted to have regained the trophy ahead of the IBSF World Championship, hoping to extend his brilliant form at the international stage.

Sajjad, who has been crowned as the national champion as many as three times since his sensational entry more than a decade ago, vowed to continue working hard to achieve more glories in future.

Asif and Sajjad, two of the most accomplished cueists of the country, produced another game of pedigree, as anticipated, in the final. Asif did win the first couple of frames but he was made to work very hard for them.

It was a matter of time for Sajjad to open his account and he did it in the third frame by compiling a break of 57. He sustained the momentum to win the fourth frame which equalised the match.

Asif put his nose in front by taking the fifth frame but Sajjad made it three-all by running away with the sixth frame and moved ahead, for the first time, by pocketing the seventh frame with the help of a break of 61.

A tense battle ensued in the next couple of frames but Asif was fortunate to get away with them on both occasions and he made it count by winning the next two frames as well to seal the fate of the match.

The final was followed by the prize distribution ceremony in which Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, was the chief guest. He presented a cheque of Rs100,000 along with the winner’s trophy to Muhammad Asif.

Syed Usman Qaiser, Marketing Head, Jubilee Life Insurance, awarded the cash prize of Rs40,000 along with the runner-up trophy to Muhammad Sajjad while Fawad Malik, President, Karachi Gymkhana, gave away a cash award of Rs5,000 to Muhammad Naseem Akhtar for registering the highest break (134) of the one-week championship.

The total prize money disbursed was Rs195,000 as Muhammad Bilal and Sohail Shahzad, the losing semi-finalists, got Rs15,000 each and the quartet of losing quarter-finalists, Muhammad Ijaz, Asjad Iqbal, Abdul Sattar and Babar Masih, received Rs5,000 each.

Speaking on the occasion, Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), acknowledged the support of all the stakeholders in transforming snooker into one of the most popular sports of the country.

He talked about the rising standard of the game. He reckoned that the emergence of talented youngsters has forced the seasoned campaigners to stay on their toes and seek continued improvement for success even at the national level.