Saturday September 25, 2021

Sajjad outsmarts Haris to regain NBP Ranking Snooker title

October 07, 2020

KARACHI: Former World No 2 Muhammad Sajjad regained the trophy by outwitting Haris Tahir in the final of the 12th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship 2020 here at the NBP Sports Complex in Clifton on Tuesday.

Having annexed the title previously in 2009 and 2014, Sajjad equalled the feat of Muhammad Asif who won the NBP Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2019.

Asjad Iqbal has been the most successful cueist in this tournament as he won it in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2017. Imran Shahzad (2011) and Muhammad Ijaz (2018) are the other winners.

There were moments in the final when it seemed that a new champion might emerge in the shape of Haris but the vastly experienced Sajjad lived up to his big reputation to win the best-of-15-frame title clash 8-6 with the scores of 56-27, 59-55, 60-17, 106-31, 20-61, 66-45, 33-74, 66-5, 11-67, 60-63, 17-73, 17-73, 57-42, 27-63, 129-0.

After a flurry of upsets during the previous week, the final very nearly provided another as Haris refused to give up without giving his fancied opponent a run for his money. In the end it was the big match temperament and superior expertise in tackling crunch situations which won the day for Sajjad, who had toppled the defending champion Asif in the semi-finals.

Sajjad began the final with his trademark confidence, winning the first frame rather comfortably. He was stretched to his fullest means in the second frame but he managed to win it narrowly. He was in complete command in the next couple of frames, as he moved to 4-0 lead with an imperious break of 65 in the fourth frame.

Haris opened his account by winning the fifth frame but he was floored in the next one. He pulled it back by taking the seventh frame before Sajjad made it 6-2 by running away with the eighth frame.

At this point it seemed that Sajjad would walk away with the trophy without being challenged but that was not to be. Haris showed remarkable resilience to win three frames on a trot to make it 5-6. Sajjad made it 7-5 by clinching the 12th frame but Haris kept the contest alive by snatching the next frame.

A masterly break of 77 in the 14th frame allowed Sajjad to claim another ranking title.

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president Arif Usmani presented a cheque of Rs100,000 to Sajjad alongwith the winner’s trophy. Haris collected a cheque of Rs40,000 and Babar Masih won the cash award of Rs 5,000 for registering the highest break of the tournament (128).

Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) president Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, in the welcome addresss, expressed his satisfaction at having successfully organised a tournament after a gap of seven months.