Is there any stopping to Hossein Vafaei Ayouri? A Seven-Nation Championship title only a month ago and now he’s crowned as the 13th Asian Under-21 Snooker Champion. Last year he thrilled spectators in India by winning the IBSF Snooker World Championship and once again India was the stage for his recent coronation. Let’s see how it all went down in beautiful Goa, India.
The tournament began on Monday April 2, 2012 with 33 participants from Pakistan, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, China, Saudi Arabia and UAE, divided into eight groups. Two players from each group were to compete in the knockout stage. Pakistan placed its bet on two youngsters, Hunain Aamir from Sialkot and Mohammad Majid from Faisalabad. Hunain is the reigning Pakistan Junior Under-21 Snooker Champion, while, Majid was the runner-up of the National Junior Championship.
Things were looking great for Pakistan when Hunain Aamir beat Lalit Dahiya of India in the seven-frame opening game. He further solidified his standing in the tournament by leveling Marcus Lim Wei Jie of Singapore in his second game. It was straight frames win for Hunain with scores of 87-17, 62-6, 84-16, and 75-37. This win secured Hunain a place in the pre-quarter finals. The next stop for him was Group championship but this was not meant to be. In his third league match, he faced the current world champion Hossein Vafaei Ayouri. Vafaei deprived Hunain of the Group championship by defeating him 4-1 with the scores of 97-4, 69-0, 79-1, 51-75, 96-0. Hunain’s only moment of glory was a break of 57 in the third frame.
Mohammad Majid gave a stellar performance in the league matches by beating Akani Songsermasawad of Thailand and Chang Yu Kiu of Hong Kong in the first two games. Afterward, he secured his Group championship by defeating Slyavosh Mozayani of Iran in an exciting game, which concluded with the scores of 61-34, 41-71, 5-67, 110-31, 92-39, and 69-58.
Pakistan’s Hopes Dashed in Pre-Quarter Finals
With both contestants in the pre-quarter finals, Pakistanis were hopeful for a place in the final round. But lady luck was not going to smile on the two Pakistani youngsters this time. Mohammad Majid faced Laxman Rawat of India and put on a good show in this seven frame battle but it wasn’t enough. Although Majid proved his mettle by leveling the game 3-3 after being down 1-3, Rawat proceeded into the semi finals nonetheless, beating Majid 4-3 with scores 75-2, 27-80, 79-31, 68-60, 13-95, 0-83, and 65-54.
Now, it was up to Hunain to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive. He was up against Mohammad Lababi of Iran in this seven frame fixture. Hunain came back from 0-3 to win the 4th, 5th and 6th frames but that’s where his streak ended as Lababi finished off with 88-0 in the last frame.
Mohammad Lababi was defeated by Zhou Yelong 5-3 with the frame scores of 61-72, 112-0, 57-56, 78-23, 5-88, 65-31, 103-2.
Anda Zhang became the second semi finalist by overpowering Lu Ning in straight frames with the scores of 61-56, 67-42, 87-24, 59-51, and 108-0.
Laxman Rawat of India met his fate at the hands of Noppon Saengkham of Thailand in straight frames with the scores of 83-0, 79-41, 64-44, 104-4, 75-4.
The reigning world champion Vafaei, secured his place in the semi-finals by winning 5-2 against Amir Sarkhosh with the frame scores of 57-11, 57-53, 54-63, 71-1, 64-8, 38-64, 63-44.
The Last Stop before the Finals
The Semi finals proved to be nail biters with both games going all the way to nine frames. Vafaei was up against Noppon Saengkham, who gave Vafaei a run for his money. The game ended 5-4 in Vafaei’s favor with the scores of 70-17, 41-52, 73-00, 109-7, 105-22, 5-119, 28-77, 31-75, 74-36.
In the other semi-final, Zhou Yelong gave a similar treatment to Anda Zhang but lost 5-4 with the frame scores of 52-64, 76-1, 87-64, 59-40, 5-104, 109-0, 6-70, 57-44.
The Big Showdown
Unlike the fights up to the finals, the big showdown was one-sided. The sensational Iranian Vafaei was in superb form in the best of 11-frame final. The first five frames belonged to Vafaei with breaks of 79, 74, 105 and 67. He needed just one more frame to take the crown home, and then Anda Zhang showed signs of life. But when the dust settled it was all over for him and the tournament was wrapped up 6-2 by Vafaei with the frame scores of 121-6, 87-37, 74-0, 126-6, 79-5, 12-69, 29-76, 91-13.
(Image courtesy of LotusHead)