Hamza Akbar, the new National Champion

Karachi – Pakistan, March 25, 2013: Lady Luck smiled on teenage debutant Hamza Akbar who surprised the fraternity of the game as he carved a magnificent 8-7 victory in an epic best of 15 frames final against Imran Shehzad to win the Jubilee Insurance 38th National Snooker Championship at the Karachi Gymkhana on Monday.

The 19-year-old Hamza fought valiantly to post a 79-45, 36-70, 58-61, 76-1, 6-85, 23-89, 67-6, 64-22, 54-46, 806, 24-78, 24-73, 63-58, 0-115, 89-43 victory over his vastly-experienced opponent in the title battle which went the full distance.

The former junior international who is set to fly to Indore for Asian under-21 snooker championship on Thursday, showed great determination in an eight-hour spectacle to turn the tide in his favour. He recovered from 2-4 down to level 4-4 before surging into a 6-4 lead. Imran took the next two frames to level 6-6 before the two won a frame each to bring the tie to a decisive 15th frame.

Hamza won the crucial frame before flashing a victory sign the moment he pot the black ball to clear the table. Hamza build up three breaks of 44, 80 and 54 in the fourth, 10th and 15th frames while Imran scored five breaks of 47, 45, 40, 46 and 88 in the second, fifth, sixth, 11th and 14th frames.

`I cannot believe that I`ve won the senior national title in presence of country`s top cueists including world champion Mohammad Asif,` a jubilant Hamza, who entered the event as Punjab No 2.

Hamza proved that his victory over former Pakistan No 1 in the final was not flash in a pan as he had beaten him in the semi-final of Punjab Cup in the recent past and the youngster has vowed to justify his tag of being the country`s latest snooker prodigy.

`I defied pressure of playing in the maiden final of the country`s premier snooker championship and kept my cool at crucial moments which helped me reach new heights,` Hamza, who will now attain the top national ranking, added.

For the 37-year-old Imran, the national title had eluded him in his fourth attempt. `He [Hamza] played well and availed the chances that came his way,` said Imran while acknowledging the performance of the eventual champion.

Hamza received a purse of Rs 80,000 and the winners` trophy while Imran bagged Rs50,000 along with the runner-up trophy from the chief guests Tahir Ahmed and Javed Ahmed of Jubilee Insurance. Also present on the occasion were officials of the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Federation (PBSF) Alamgir Shaikh, Munawwar Shaikh, Jawaid Karim and Wahid Qadir. Islamabad champion Ayaz Khan, meanwhile, received a purse of Rs 25,000 for the highest break of 111. —- Courtesy: Daily Dawn

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