New Delhi: Former Asian Games gold medalist, Rafath Habib survived a scare before prevailing over Delhi`s Sundeep Gulati in the final of the RKG Snooker Masters North Zone Championship in New Delhi on Monday.
Both the cueists were neck and neck till the eighth frame before Chennai`s Habib broke away to take the decider 64-59 and win the coveted championship at the Megapool Snooker Academy in Dwarka.
In the best-of-nine-frame final, Habib was stretched to the limit by the former national 9-Ball Pool Champion, Gulati, before the veteran cueist once again established his dominance on the cue sport circuit with a 5-4 win.
Habib took home a cash prize of Rs 21,000 and, in the process, also qualified for the RKG Snooker Masters 2013, India`s biggest Pro-Am Snooker tournament, to be held in Mumbai from May 6 to 13 in Mumbai.
Habib will be joined by Gulati, Delhi`s Dharminder Lilly and the 2010 National 8-Ball Pool champion, Sumit Talwar as the four contestants from the North Zone for the Mumbai tourney.
The four players from the South Zone had already been decided for the Snooker Masters and the conclusion of the North Zone rounds today gave way to the East and West Zone qualifiers to be played later this month.
Eight-time world champion Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta will participate in the tournament. They will be joined by 16 qualifiers from across four venues in India -- Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Pune.
The prize money is the biggest offered in India with the winner`s purse being Rs 500,000 lakh.
In the summit clash, Habib started off on a resounding note pocketing the first frame in a jiffy. However, his joy was short-lived as Delhi`s Gulati made a strong comeback winning the next two frames.
Trailing 1-2, Habib pulled out all the stops to secure the next three frames, producing an hour of sublime quality snooker.
Potting the ball all around the table with consummate ease, the Bussan Asian Games Doubles gold medalist in Snooker was simply unstoppable.
The scorelines of fourth, fifth and sixth frames 79-01, 61-27 and 71-37 said it all.
Reduced to a mere spectator, Gulati made a splendid comeback and reigned supreme on the green baize by winning the next two frames.
With scores level at 4-4, both Habib and Gulati brought their vast experience to the table and never gave each other any easy chances.
With every shot making it count, Habib potted the yellow ball, a difficult shot on the cushion, and then made a superb clearance to settle the issue on the black ball.
Final: Rafath Habib beat Sundeep Gulati: 5-4 (65-24, 49-70, 32-73, 79-01, 61-27, 71-37, 08-58, 49-54, 64-59
Semifinals: Rafath Habib beat Dharminder Lilly 4-2 (58-81, 69-02, 61-22, 31-45, 87-17, 75-28)
Sundeep Gulati beat Sumit Talwar: 06-73, 41-63, 97-43, 94-13, 85-14, 70-46, 68-10.
First Published: Monday, March 18, 2013, 22:53