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Pakistan defeats Iran to clinch IBSF World Team Championship

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Asif (L) and Sajjad (R) showed lion’s heart as they stabilised the sinking ship by winning the fourth game to make it 3-1.

KARACHI: Pakistan represented by World Champion Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Sajjad came back from 3-0 to win the IBSF World Championship defeating Iran 5-3 in a thrilling final in Carlow, Ireland.

Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) President Alamgir Sheikh – who is in Ireland with the team – said it was another landmark for Pakistan snooker.

“It’s another big moment in Pakistan snooker as we’ve become IBSF World Team Champions,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune.

He said Pakistan had finally arrived in snooker globally as the number of titles won by Pakistani cueists had continued to increase impressively in last 12 months.

“This victory suggests that we have got great talent,” Sheikh said adding that he had predicted that Pakistan had ‘a deadly duo’.

The team in green had been in great form throughout the event – often proving untouchable in initial stages while their confidence grew as difficult matches came their way.

However, their nerves were seriously tested by Iran’s duo of Amir Sarkhosh and Soheil Vahedi, who managed to build up a solid lead of 3-0 as Pakistan struggled to match them with nerves and stakes high.

But Asif and Sajjad showed lion’s heart as they stabilised the sinking ship by winning the fourth game to make it 3-1.

With one frame in bag, the Pakistani duo started to play with more confidence and went on to win next two frames easily as the score was tied at 3-3 in the best of nine-frame finale.

As the match got evenly poised, both sides started to play with caution which resulted in two closely fought frames but it was Pakistan that triumphed ultimately winning with game scores of 33-70, 18-68, 9-74, 88-20(83), 67-11, 87-15, 75-43 and 58-35.

For Asif, it was another feather in his cap as he added world team championship title to his collection. However it was the first major title for Mohammad Sajjad, who had vowed that he would not remain in the shadow of Asif.

‘Government should give due respect to champions’

Sheikh added that both the players deserve all the credit to show a great talent in such a tense match and their heroics should be respect by government and corporate sector.

“Being 3-0 down in a final can shake anyone but the way Asif and Sajjad fought back was itself an achievement. They were fantastic under pressure, which is a trait of real champions and I hope they’ll be given due respect by the government, corporate sector and Pakistan Sports Board (PCB),” he stated.

Sajjad could get wildcard: Sheikh

The PBSA chief further said after winning this title, Pakistan could see Sajjad participating in IBSF World Championship to be held in Latvia in November.

“Sajjad could be given wildcard on the basis of his performances and he might represent Pakistan as the fourth player in world championship alongside Asif, Imran Shehzad and Shahid Aftab,” Sheikh concluded.

The IBSF World Snooker Championship also known as the World Amateur Snooker Championship is the premier non-professional snooker tournament in the world. The event series is sanctioned by the International Billiards and Snooker Federation.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2013.

 

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