IBSF World Team Championship: When Pakistan let the title slip away

Asjad, Shahid failed to contain Malaysia in error-strewn decider

Asjad and Shahid were leading the deciding frame, but eventually surrendered the title to Malaysia. PHOTO: AYESHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Lady Luck did not smile on Pakistan 3 duo of Asjad Iqbal and Shahid Aftab as Malaysia’s Moh Keen Hoo and Kok Leong Lim snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, winning 5-4 in the final of the IBSF World Team Championship at the Movenpick Hotel in Karachi on Saturday.

Asjad had put Pakistan within the sight of the title, but then he let the trophy slip away.

The final could hardly be counted among the best as both teams were cautious, owing to the grand stage of the competition, and played carefully while trying not to go for fancy shots.

However, it was not a one-sided match and went right down to the wire in the ninth frame, which was a doubles affair.

With the match even at 4-4, the decider was full of errors with both teams missing their aims. Asjad started on the wrong foot as he miscalculated while riskily trying to pot with a long shot.

The miss provided an opening for Malaysia, but they failed to make it count, notching only 12 points. Then Shahid was unable to punish Malaysia as he miscued while playing a pottable red. The mistake provided an opening  for the visitors who went 34-04 up before faltering.

Asjad and Shahid grabbed the opportunity with both hands and were well placed to run away with the title, leading 47-34 and needing just a brown and blue with the home crowd cheering them on.

But then came the moment that will haunt Asjad for a long time to come.

The turning point

The Faisalabad-based cueist successfully potted the brown, but the cue went into the pocket as well and there was a deafening silence in the hall.  Asjad could barely contain his tears.

The mistake provided Malaysia a free ball and the title as the visitors winning with overall scores of 40-71, 77-20, 66-73, 101-06, 73-42, 00-67, 38-63 and 102-25.

“It’s the toughest moment of my life. We were so close to becoming the world champions, and then the title slipped away,” Asjad told The Express Tribune. “I just couldn’t control my emotions when I saw the cue going into the pocket and knew that the championship was over.”

The former national champion expressed gratitude for his opponents’ gallant praise for the Pakistan team. “They acknowledged that we played very well and said that luck just wasn’t on our side today,” said Asjad.

Asjad said that he is happy that the entire country saw them giving it their all to secure an Independence Day gift for the fans, but it was not meant to end in the manner they wished.

Meanwhile, Shahid said that he was the one to be blamed because he could not play up to the mark and let Asjad and Pakistan down.

“I just couldn’t play my game in the final because I was really nervous,” said a dejected Shahid. “I take the blame for this title loss, but would like to add that it was an error-ridden match, which was eventually won by Malaysia.”

Pakistan faced the same fate in the Masters event, with Mohammad Yousuf and Naveen Perwani losing the decider 5-2 to Afghanistan’s Saleh Mohammad and Zemarai Hassas.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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