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Veteran Sajjad overwhelms Ahsan to bag national snooker title

Veteran Sajjad overwhelms Ahsan to bag national snooker title

KARACHI: Experienced second seed Mohammad Sajjad finally halted an unprecedented run of young Ahsan Ramzan as the former recorded an excitement-filled 7-6 victory in the final to win the fourth overall national snooker title here at the NBP Sports Complex on Monday.

Fresh from his victories over Asif and Babar Masih in preceding matches, Punjab’s Ahsan moved led 1-0, 2-1, 3-1 and 4-2 before Sajjad, also of Punjab, equalised 4-4.

Ahsan then went ahead 5-4 before Sajjad fought back to level 5-5. Ahsan again won the 11th frame after which Sajjad mustered an elegant break of 121 to make it 6-6. Sajjad then for the first time went ahead in the match when it mattered most taking the decisive frame to win the title as curtains fell on the NBP 46th National Snooker Championship.

The veteran won the five-and-a-half-hour duel 46-63, 72-33, 0-68, 7-72, 71-13, 14-59, 64-24, 75-62, 1-80, 103-27, 61-72, 121-13, 60-50 amidst applause by a select gathering.

Sajjad, who has many national and international titles under his belt, won the country’s premier championship of the game in 2008, 2010 and 2017.

“I was confident to win the title and luckily I did it by availing chances in the final frame,” a jubilant Sajjad told Dawn after the triumph.

Sajjad applauded Ahsan, the current national U-17 champion, for stretching him to limits and making the final evenly poised.

For Ahsan, it was so near yet so far who despite making waves saw the title slip from his hands by a whisker.

Ahsan, 16, came very close to scale new heights and create a history of becoming the youngest-ever national champion and equalling the feat of Farhan Mirza who had won both national junior and senior titles in the past.

This was Sajjad’s second successive victory at a domestic event in a year that also took him to the top of national rankings.

He had annexed the NBP Cup by getting the better of Haris Tahir in the decider at the same venue last year.

The 37-year-old Sajjad, who had a bad start to the event losing his first two matches, also achieved a landmark of smashing 147 break in the competition, a rare feat not accomplished by any cueist in the national ranking events so far.

NBP President Arif Usmani who graced the final announced a matching reward of Rs147,000 for Sajjad who is also employed in the bank.

In addition to winning a purse of Rs100,000 and Rs10,000 for the highest break, he was awarded another Rs50,000 apiece by the PBSF and one of its officials Wahid A. Qadir.

Ahsan was presented the runner-up prize of Rs50,000 besides a consolation purse of Rs25,000 by PBSF President Jawed Karim for becoming the youngest-ever finalist.

Making his second appearance in the national men’s championship, the Lahore-based Ahsan has improved by leaps and bounds in a short span of time pocketing the national U-16 and U-18 titles last year besides winning honours of U-17 and finishing runner-up in the U-21 event this year.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2021

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