KARACHI: Top two seeds, Mohammad Asif and Asjad Iqbal, as expected, lived up to their reputation by storming into the final of fourth ranking snooker cup after winning their semi-finals in contrasting styles at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex on Friday.
Top seed and national champion Asif struggled to overcome fighting Sohail Shehzad 6-4 in the best of 11 frames encounter. He was home 79-34, 52-65, 91-44, 34-84, 65-38, 70-50, 51-72, 70-76, 64-9, 58-29 in the gruelling battle that lasted over four hours.
Contrary to Asif’s fight back, second seed Asjad showed no sign of nervousness and blanked Shahram Changezi 6-0 to reach his third consecutive final of the year. He took two-and-a-half hours to register 72-35, 93-44, 79-9, 69-52, 68-50, 54-23 win in the second semi-final.
The final between Asif and Asjad to be played over 13 frames starts at 11am on Saturday. It will be a repeat of this year’s NBP Cup final in which Asjad toppled Asif 7-4 for the honours.
The prize distribution ceremony will be held at 5pm. The winner will receive Rs70,000 while the runner-up gets Rs40,000 out of Rs1,65,000 prize money.
Punjab’s Asif, 30, who had two national titles under his belt, was off to a brisk start taking 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2 lead but the seventh seed Shahzad from Sindh recovered thrice to draw level 1-1, 2-2, and 4-4 before giving up as the former wrapped up 6-4.
On the other hand, 20-year-old Asjad was brilliant while brushing aside Islamabad-based Changezi in style. It is pertinent to mention that Asjad, who is also a former national champion, has outplayed Changezi 7-2 in the final to win the third ranking event of the year.
Results: Mohammad Asif (Punjab) bt Sohail Shehzad (Sindh) 6-4 (79-34, 52-65, 91-44, 34-84, 65-38, 70-50, 51-72, 70-76, 64-9, 58-29); Asjad Iqbal (Punjab) bt Shahram Changezi (Islamabad) 6-0 (72-35, 93-44, 79-9, 69-52, 68-50, 54-23).
Saturday’s fixtures: Final (Best of 13 frames): Mohammad Asif v Asjad Iqbal 11am.