By Syed Khalid Mahmood
The Asians have once again proved their mettle at the international level in the game of snooker and three of the four semifinalists belonged to the continent. Thepchaya Un-Nooh of Thailand was crowned as the new world champion at Wels, Austria, on November 8.
He overpowered the dangerous Colin Gilcreest of Ireland 11-7 in the marathon best of 21-frame final. Gilcreest, in fact, was the only non-Asian to have made it to the last four.Un-Nooh was in sparkling form throughout the tournnament having chalked up the breaks of 143, 139, 111, 96, 91, 89, 88, 86, 86, 83, 78, 73, 69, 69, 69, 67, 64, 62, 61, 61, 60, 54, 54, 53, 50, 50, 50 during the course of his title-winning act.In the semifinals, Un-Nooh had outwitted Chinaʼs Xiao Guodong 7-4 while Gilcreest had tamed Sohail Vahidi of Iran 7-5.
The Asian cueists proved the point once more that the standard of cue sports was on the rise in their part of the world and the future belongs to them. Thailand and China are particularly the two countries having progressed in leaps and bounds in the cue sports arena in the recent past.
With more glories coming their way, the cue sports is certain to move to another level in Thailand whose administrators have been proactive over the years. The other Asian countries should derive inspiration from them.
China has also emerged on the scene as a cue sports giant. The performance of Sohail Vahidi may go a long way in boosting the game in Iran now.
There was disappointment, however, for both Pakistan and India whose cueists could not force their way into the semifinals despite looking good in earlier matches.
Pakistanʼs last hope Khurram Hussain Agha was eliminated in the pre-quarter-finals. Yu Delu of China proved simply too good for him in what turned out to be a one-sided affair as he won the best of nine encounter 5-1 with the frame scores of 67-45, 75-42, 1-100, 69-23, 90-23, 69-45.
Pakistanʼs hopes of regaining the world title were resting on the shoulders of Khurram after the exit of the countryʼs premier cueist, Saleh Mohammad, in the round of last 32.Khurram, who had staged a magnificent comeback in his earlier game in which he trailed1-4 against Au Chi Wai of Hong Kong was unable to do it while facing Yu Delu who was in no mood to give it away.
Khurram did bounce back to clinch the third frame after having lost the first two but he could not do much to prevent the rampaging Chinese from pocketing one frame after another.
Khurramʼs defeat in the pre-quarters meant Pakistan returned empty-handed once more. Mohammad Yousuf remains the countryʼs only cueist to have won the world amateur title, having done it in 1994.
Saleh has come very close to accomplishing the mission on a couple of occasions but the world crown has somehow eluded him so far despite his big reputation in the international circles.
Indiaʼs former world champion Pankaj Advani was routed by Chinaʼs Xiao Guodong in the quarter-finals. Guodong toppled Advani 6-2 while the other three fiercely fought quarter-finals went to the full distance of 11 frames.
Sohail Vahidi of Iran edged out Marin McCrudden of Ireland while Colin Gilcreest outwitted Lee Page of England and Thepchaya Un-Nooh of Thailand outlasted Yu Delu of China in the other quarter-finals.
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