February 23, 2018

Muhammad Asif recaptures national snooker crown after six years


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Muhammad Asif, a former world champion, recaptured the crown after six years as he edged out Muhammad Bilal in an epic final of the Jubilee Insurance 43rd National Snooker Championship 2018 at the Karachi Gymkhana on February 21.

As expected, the all-Punjab final between the two of the top cueists of the country progressed at a brisk pace with both the combatants displaying aggressive mindset to surge ahead.

It was anybody’s game, locked up at five-all, when third seed Bilal suffered a stroke of misfortune in the 11th frame and second seed Asif made the most of it by pressing home the advantage. 

Having won the national title in 2009 and 2012, Asif made the most of the lucky break in the best of 15-frame final to win it 8-5 with the scores of 83-10, 69-48, 76-19, 12-78, 28-93, 0-87, 57-77, 68-9, 79-34, 8-87, 75-51, 69-40, 66-37. The match was supervised by the eminent referee, Shabbir Hussain Daruwala.

Asif conceded that the rub of the green had gone his way in the final and he was extremely fortunate to get the opening in the 11th frame caused by an unexpected error from Bilal, who was also playing extremely well until that stage. 

The 35-year-old Asif, hailing from the industrial city of Faisalabad, felt relieved at winning the national title for the time in an illustrious career during which he also won the World Championship in 2012. 

“Bilal was a constant threat to me throughout the match and I had to play my top game to remain in business. It was a kind of encounter which was thoroughly enjoyed by the spectators as well as the large television audience watching it live,” he said. 

The 32-year-old Bilal, a proud product of Mandi Bahauddin, was aiming to the national title for the second time, having annexed it in 2016. He seemed on course of achieving his ambition but the mishap of 11th frame proved decisive and he was unable to pull it back.

Asif drew the first blood with the help of a break of 83 and then made it 3-0 by pocketing the next two frames as well. 

The breaks of 63, 60, 57 and 77 in successive frames allowed Bilal to go into 4-3 lead which was equalized by Asif with the help of a break of 61 in the eighth frame. 

The momentum was with Asif and he cashed in with another break of 79 in the ninth frame to go 5-4 up. Bilal, however, drew level by chalking up a break of 87 in the next frame. 

Bilal could not get back into game once he lost the 11th frame in which one of his shots proved fatal. Asif not only won that frame but also the next two to reclaim the trophy in style. 

Cash prizes of Rupees three lacs were disbursed in the presentation ceremony held soon after the final. Asif collected the glittering trophy with a purse of Rs 100,000 from chief guest Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, while Bilal received an award of Rs 50,000. 

The welcome speech was delivered by Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiard & Snooker Association (PBSA), while the activity report was presented by Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA. Other members of the PBSA Executive Committee present on the occasion included Zulfiqar Ramzi (Secretary), Arif Taherbhoy (Joint Secretary), Shariq Vohra, Nisar Bhagat and Rasheed Jumbo.


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