KARACHI: Pakistan’s 22-year-old cueist Hamza Akbar stormed into the final of the 31st Asian Snooker Championship, defeating Malaysia’s Mohammad Reza 6-2 in their semi-final bout taking place in Kuala Lumpur.
Reza took an early lead in the contest, but failed to capitalise on his advantage as Hamza hit back splendidly, winning three frames on the trot to go 3-1 up.
Reza tried to remain in touching distance by making it 3-2. However, Hamza was in formidable form and refused to be subdued by the Malaysian as he again ran away with three consecutive frames and won with scores of 27-66, 85-05, 115-06, 69-25, 33-72, 90-56, 103-00 and 77-04.
Earlier, Hamza had defeated compatriot Shaharam Changezi emphatically in the quarter-final to book his berth in the semis, winning 5-1.
Shaharam’s only frame win came courtesy of a splendid 120-point break, but apart from that moment of magic, it was all about Hamza’s class as he triumphed by scores of 83-18, 07-120, 57-26, 69-18, 69-14 and 74-47.
Shaharam praised Hamza for his defiance and said that the youngster showed ‘nerves of steel’ in both the quarter and the semi-final.
“The young Hamza played out of skin and showed nerves of steel in the quarter-final and the semi-final,” Shaharam told The Express Tribune. “It wasn’t like I played badly, but it was he who contested superbly and defended well, as he didn’t allow any free shots.”
Hamza will face former IBSF’s 15-ball and 6-Red World Champion Pankaj Advani in the final and although Shaharam is aware of the threat posed by the Indian, he believes Hamza has the strength to cause an upset.
“His final is against a top player and I wish him all the luck for the contest,” said Shaharam. “Advani has a daunting list of achievements, but Hamza has been courageous and I’m sure he can find the strength needed to overcome his rival.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2015.