Pakistan News

Babar sets up title clash with Asif Toba after spectacular comeback

KARACHI: Second seed Babar Masih set-up a title clash with unseeded Mohammad Asif Toba after beating top seed and defending champion Mohammad Asif in the semi-final of the third national ranking snooker championship at the Karachi Gymkhana billiards hall on Sunday.

In a spectacular comeback, Babar came from the jaws of defeat from 1-5 down to post a 6-5 victory while Mohammad Asif Toba breezed past Sharjeel Mehmood 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Babar, who lost the preceding National Bank Cup final to unseeded Mohammad Ijaz 6-8 last month, was in hot waters facing defeat from where he roared back and turned the tables on his opponent.

The never-say-die Babar won the best of 11 frames encounter 55-14, 27-73, 57-61, 8-75, 1-70, 24-76, 59-47, 65-45, 88-31, 80-14, 74-1 to make back-to-back final and justify his seeding. The match lasted four hours.

For incumbent national champion Asif, it was a successive exit in the semi-final having crashed out in the NBP Cup semis 5-6 to eventual champion Ijaz.

The preceding two ranking competitions have produced separate champions and the ongoing event gives an edge to Babar to lay his hands on the trophy. Besides a ranking title under his belt in 2016, this will be Babar’s third final of his career.

Babar had a brisk start taking the opening frame with ease 55-14. However, he succumbed to pressure as the former world champion got his touch to earn a solid 5-1 lead and a frame away to wrap up.

A smile started to return on the face of Babar as he put to halt his opponent to penetrate winning the next five frames in a row to return victorious.

Babar chalked up two breaks of 54 and 51 in the last two frames while Asif also cracked two of 59 and 58 in the second and fifth.

Earlier, Asif Toba also made a comeback from 2-4 down to register an incredible 6-4 triumph the scores being 43-57, 61-54, 87-13, 28-90, 26-60, 46-66, 80-0, 57-14, 77-49, 64-18 to make a comeback among the top cueists after a long wait.

Having won the national title in 2014 besides making it to two more finals of the ranking events, this will be Toba’s fourth final of his career.

Both unseeded Toba and Sharjeel finished runners-up in Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ respectively and surprised the pundits of the game by cruising into the pre-final.

The best-of-15 frames final between Babar and Toba starts at 10am while the prize distribution will take place at 3.30pm.

Mohammad Asif Toba (Punjab) bt Sharjeel Mehmood (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) 6-4 (43-57, 61-54, 87-13, 28-90, 26-60, 46-66, 80-0, 57-14, 77-49, 64-18); Babar Masih (Punjab) bt Mohammad Asif (Punjab) 6-5 (55-14, 27-73, 57-61, 8-75, 1-70, 24-76, 59-47, 65-45, 88-31, 80-14, 74-1).

Final at 10am: Mohammad Asif Toba v Babar Masih (best of 15 frames).

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2018

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