KARACHI: The unseeded duo of Sharjeel Mahmood and Asif Toba, along with top seed Muhammad Asif and second seed Babar Masih, stormed into the semi-finals of the Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker Championship 2018 here at the Karachi Gymkhana on Saturday.
Both the best-of-11-frame semi-finals, to be telecast live on Geo Super, will be contested on Sunday (today).
In the first semi-final, due to commence at 10 am, Sharjeel will be pitted against Toba which will be followed by the other semi-final between Asif and Babar.
All the four quarter-finals began simultaneously at 10 am on Saturday but, unsurprisingly, they followed different patterns.
Asif Toba needed only an hour and 20 minutes to dispatch Shahid Aftab 5-1 with the frame scores of 56-53, 69-18, 61-25, 5-76, 59-0, 58-15.
Defending champion and top seed Asif took a little more than a couple hours to see off sixth seed Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir 5-2 with the scores of 77-1, 35-68, 45-63, 106-9, 63-1, 70-62, 60-21.
Toba, hailing from the city of Toba Tek Singh, extended his purple patch to record his sixth successive victory in the competition. He brought to an end the fantastic run of his opponent, Shahid, who had also won all five of his league matches.
Hailing from Punjab’s industrial town of Faisalabad, Shahid, the 2011 national champion, lived up to his reputation of crashing in the knockout phase after having performed splendidly in the preliminary rounds.
Asif, the 2012 world champion also belonging to Faisalabad, continued his glorious run this year as he dominated the fixture against Zulfiqar.
Starting with a break of 70 in the opening frame, Asif didn’t let his inexperienced opponent settle down. Another sizzling break of 55 in the fourth frame confirmed the dominance of the reigning national champion.
Second seed Babar was taken to full nine frames by Haris Tahir before the former sealed a 5-4 win with the scores of 3-72, 5-108, 95-35, 67-39, 56-67, 71-51, 25-56, 68-58, 67-14 in three hours.
Babar, coming from the city of Rawalpindi, had to bring all his expertise into play to contain his younger rival who was equally eager to dominate the proceedings.
After losing the first frame, Haris made his intentions clear by firing a break of 100 in the second frame. Babar regained control with breaks of 63 and 54 in the fourth and sixth frames respectively but Haris managed to make it four-all by pocketing the tensely-fought eighth frame.
There was everything to play for in the decisive ninth frame and it was Babar’s greater experience which allowed him to squeeze a break of 55 and settle the issue.
The encounter between the unseeded duo of Sharjeel Mahmood and Rambail Gul also went the full distance with the former needing four and a quarter hours to finally overcome his stubborn rival 5-4 with the scores of 7-73, 59-22, 55-36, 73-0, 3-69, 26-78, 61-41, 54-74, 70-38.
Rambail, belonging to Peshawar, felt hard done by a referee’s decision in the ninth and final frame when he was leading by 39 points. He was furious at having lost the game to Sharjeel, coming from Haripur, after a gruelling battle in which fortunes had kept fluctuating dramatically.