Babar Masih clinches ranking snooker title

Updated June 05, 2016

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BABAR Masih (fourth L) and Asjad Iqbal pose for a photograph with PBSF officials after receiving the trophies on Saturday.
BABAR Masih (fourth L) and Asjad Iqbal pose for a photograph with PBSF officials after receiving the trophies on Saturday.

KARACHI: He came, he saw, he conquered. This comes true on Rawalpindi-based cueist Babar Masih, who while playing first ranking final of his four-year career, twice drew level before outwitting seasoned Asjad Iqbal by 6-5 frames to capture maiden title at hotel Movenpick on Saturday.

Babar, who has leaped three places to go on top, has been in the news for the last few months – first for making it to the semis of the 41st national championship and then reaching quarters in Asian 6-Reds and Team Event separately at Abu Dhabi recently.

The 28-year-old soft-spoken Babar won the fully stretched final of the Jubilee Insurance second ranking snooker championship 8-66, 58-49, 20-67, 39-71, 57-56, 0-123, 80-45, 64-57, 61-64, 79-49, 68-13.

After emerging group D champion, he removed Sharjeel Mehmood 5-1 in the pre quarters, got the better of Mohammad Asif Toba 5-0 in the quarters and humbled Abu Saim 5-2 in the semis in the run up to the final.

“It’s indeed an honour for me and my family and I’ll try to maintain it besides going all out to win international laurels,” an elated Babar, who made his domestic debut after becoming Punjab champion in 2012, told Dawn.

Babar also caught the eye for compiling highest break of 135 against Nadir Miran on the second day of the league.

Asjad, 29, who held three National Bank ranking titles under his belt, said ‘luck eluded him to capture the crown though he enjoyed an edge over his opponent’.

The Sargodhian cueist, however, earned distinction of scoring highest number of five century breaks during the event. He also surged in the national ranking from seventh to third.

At the outset, Babar, who was jittery in the beginning, conceded the opener 8-66 but was quick to drew level by winning the second 58-49. Asjad gave no room to his opponent in the next two frames and enhanced his lead to 3-1. Babar lost the third frame 20-67 and conceded the forth 39-71.

Asjad opened the fifth frame pretty well and register two breaks of 35 and 21 to take 56-0 lead. At that juncture Babar displayed his patience and made a clearance of 57 to win the frame 57-56 to reduce the deficit 2-3.

Situation changed in the sixth frame when Asjad piled up two elegant breaks of 72 and 50 as Babar lose 0-123 to trail 2-4 in the best of 11 frames final.

But that was a turning point for Babar who fought back into the game winning back-to-back frames 80-45 and 64-57 to level four-all. Babar once again came under pressure losing the ninth frame narrowly 61-64 to trail 4-5 in the match. But a rejuvenated Babar not only clinched the 10th frame 79-49 but also went on to win the 11th and decisive frame 68-13 and the match.

Babar received a purse o Rs70,000 and winners trophy while Asjad received Rs40,000 and runner-up trophy from the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Federation (PBSF) president Alamgir Shaikh. Babar also fetched Rs5,000 for his Highest Break feat.

The PBSF secretary Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, treasurer Zulfiqar Ramzi, managing committee members Nisar Bhagat and Khalil Bachani, besides Arif Tahirbhai and Naveed Kapadia were also present.

Final results:

Babar Masih (Punjab) bt Asjad Iqbal (Punjab) 6-5 (8-66, 58-49, 20-67, 39-71, 57-56, 0-123, 80-45, 64-57, 61-64, 79-49, 68-13).

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2016