Asjad conquers Awais Ullah to win national snooker title

By our correspondent
KARACHI: Pakistan’s ace-cueist Asjad Iqbal of National Bank was crowned champion when he conquered Awais Ullah Munir of Punjab 7-6 after a pulsating six-hour long battle in the final of the NBP 48th National Snooker Championship which concluded at the NBP Sports Complex Karachi snooker arena on Tuesday.
“Thanks God I got the title eventually,” Asjad told this correspondent after the marathon contest.
“I had won all other titles but had not won this one and today I am very happy that I have won it also,” Asjad said.
“The opponent was tough and I would say that there was nothing big from me but Allah was very kind who bestowed this mercy on me,” Asjad said.
“You know the winner of this event features in the Asian Championship and World Championship and pressure was there but the things went well in the end,” Asjad said.
In the gripping final fixture both cueists were seen at the top of their temperament and offered toughest time to each other in front of a sizeable audience.
Asjad did not take a good start. He lost the first frame 5-80. However, he recovered from early hiccup, having fired a 72 break to lift the second frame 99-14 and made it 1-1. He never looked back and went on to win his next two frames to secure a 3-1 lead. Awais, at this stage, showed great discipline, put in what he had and took 5-3 lead by securing victories in the next four frames with 69-18, 64-42, 75-55 and 55-42 margins. But Asjad, having an ample international experience, again made a stunning fightback. He won the next three frames 67-0, 71-21 and 77-18 to take 6-5 lead. However, Awais bounced back as he fired a 92 break in the next frame which he won 92-48 to bring 6-6 parity. In the 13th and final frame, it could have been the game of any body. And experience made the difference as Asjad crafted a 55-40 win to seal the fate of the final in his own favour.
The frames score was 5-80(61), 99-14(72), 64-45, 64-08, 18-69, 42-64, 55-75, 42-55, 67-0(63), 71-21, 77-18, 48-92(92), 55-40.
Asjad on Monday had defeated Mohammad Naseem Akhtar of Punjab 6-1 in the semi-final while Awais Ullah Munir of Punjab had downed Sohail Shehzad of Sindh 6-2 in the other semi-final.
NBP Senior Vice President Abdul Wahid Sethi handed over trophy and a purse of Rs 200,000 to the winner Asjad Iqbal while Awais Ullah Munir was presented a trophy and a cheque of Rs100,000. Babar Masih got richer by Rs 25,000 for firing a break of 142, the highest one of the tournament.
A prize money of Rs 525,000 was distributed. Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) chairman Alamgir Sheikh was also present on the occasion.
Sargodha-born Asjad, having played in England for the last one and a half year, also has to his credit World Cup title besides finishing second in the World Team Snooker Championship.
Having won several national ranking tournaments Asjad was missing a national championship crown which he eventually won.
Awais Ullah Munir played his first final at this stage and he was the third seed in the event in which 37 cueists featured.

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