October 29, 2011

Imran Shahzad stages magnificent comeback to win Jubilee Snooker tourney


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Top seeded Imran Shahzad lived up to the billing and came up with sensational performance to edge out unseeded Asif Toba in an epic final to win the Jubilee General Insurance 3rd Ranking Snooker Championship 2011 at the Karachi Gymkhana on October 29.

Recovering from an attack of dengue, Imran staged a magnificent comeback after being 3-6 down to win it 8-7 with the frame scores of 1-70, 78-21,119-0, 47-60, 40-88, 13-85, 25-58, 68-14, 25-96, 89-19, 87-18, 29-72, 92-0, 65-13, 115-25.

The prize distribution ceremony was held soon after the conclusion of the final which lasted five and a half hours. Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee Insurance Company, was the chief guest of the evening as a total of Rs 150,000 was disbursed among the outstanding performers.

Speaking on the occasion, Tahir Ahmed expressed his delight at the growth of snooker activities in the country, hoping that Pakistan would be producing world champions in the future as well.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), confirmed that Imran Shahzad, by retaining his number one position in the national rankings, became the automatic qualifier for the upcoming World Snooker Championship.

Talking to the media, after claiming the trophy, the Lahore-based Imran observed that he had been laid low by the dengue virus and was advised bed rest by the doctors for this particular period.

“I played the tournament primarily because I didn’t wish to miss the chance of playing in the World Championship. Thankfully I managed to win the title which has allowed me to retain my top ranking and accomplish my goal,” he remarked.

Asif, a promising youngster from Toba Tek Singh, admitted that he was overawed by the occasion and he committed unforced errors in the decisive frame only because he was feeling the heat of the moment.

“Yes I as tense and nervous in the last frame which made the difference between winning and losing. In normal circumstances I would have definitely potted those easy red balls which missed target in the 15th frame,” he said.

Asif had his moments in the final which he could have won comfortably, had he not got carried away in the last half an hour or so.

He had entered the game in a positive frame of winning as he registered a break of 51 to draw first blood. Imran hit back by taking the second frame and then moved ahead with the help of a break of 119 in the third frame.

Asif then stepped up and took the next four frames on a trot to go into 5-2 lead. Imran narrowed the deficit by taking the eighth frame but Asif regained three-frame lead quickly. Imran won the next two frames but Asif became the favourite again when he ran into 7-5 lead.

Imran had to bring all his expertise into play to stay in the game. He drew level by winning the 14th frame and there was everything to play for in the 15th frame which produced lot of drama and excitement.

Imran was guilty of committing as many as four fouls before opening his account which meant 16 bonus points for his opponent. Asif was found wanting in potting easy red balls more than once which allowed Imran to do the business. He recorded breaks of 60 and 39 in successive visits to the table to settle the issue.

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