Pakistan Snooker Player Hamza Akbar Beats World Number 2

It may not feel like it, and you probably won’t hear much about it, but yesterday marked a big day in the world of Pakistan international sport. I’m not talking about cricket or other popular home nation sports. I’m talking about a sport that has barely registered in Pakistan but a sport that is huge in the UK. I’m talking about snooker, because as I write, the UK snooker world has the name Hamza Akbar on its lips. The question is, just who is Akbar, what did he do and what does the future hold for him?

Who is Hamza Akbar?

Akbar is currently the only ranked snooker player for Pakistan. That probably sounds like a very minor achievement, but it’s not. Far from it. For one thing, the world snooker rankings aren;t exactly a diverse group. The vast majority of players are from the UK, with a selection of players from Canada, Australia and China. Only a handful of countries have ever had players here, and now Pakistan is one of them. Because sitting at around 100 on the list is Hamza Akbar. And in a few short months, his ranking will likely increase. Akbar is a 23 year old snooker player who has done very little on the international stage, but has had minor success in Asia. Considered to be the best in Pakistan, his career winnings totaled just under £10,000 before the 25th of February 2017, which is someway shy of the millions earned by those at the top. The resident of Faisalabad has played against several greats of the game, but hasn’t really excelled. In 2015 he was losing 4-0 to former champion Mark Williams when he pulled back 3 frames. He still went on to lose, but that loss and its closeness became one of the biggest positives on his career card. That is, until the recent Shootout event in Manchester, UK.

Akbar Destroys World Number 2

On Saturday the 25th of February, Akbar faced off against former world champion Stuart Bingham in the Coral Shootout. This tournament takes on a different format. The game is quick, with time limits and only a single frame. But it’s still a great measure of success, which bodes well for Akbar, who looked all but gone when he came back to beat the Englishman. Akbar’s play wowed the rowdy crowd and made it onto the highlight reels at the end of the tournament. In Sunday, the tournament final was won by Anthony McGill, a young Scot, but Akbar was getting just as much praise for his performances. Hamza actually lost in the second round to the eventual runner-up. The money he wins won’t make much of an impact on the rankings. But it will give him a huge confidence boost. It also gave him a lot of TV time and ensures he has another big green tick on his CV. he future is bight for this young Pakistan player. If he can beat the second best in the world, he’ll feel like he can beat anyone. And when you have that sort of confidence and the skill to back it up, nothing can stop you. In the grand scheme of things, considering the relative obscurity of the tournament and the fact he was knocked out early on, this doesn’t mean much. But momentum accounts for a lot in this game and Hamza will finally feel like he has some wind in his sails. So, here’s to a big 2017 for Hamza Akbar

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