England Makes Comeback at World Cup of Pool
The England billiards team produced a marvellous fightback to scrape into the last 16 of the 2007 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool. Poland had led 3-0, 5-2 and 6-3 but the English duo of Imran Majid and Daryl Peach then won five consecutive racks to clinch an 8-6 win at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam.
They will now meet the Finnish side of former World Champion Mika Immonen and his team-mate Markus Juva in the next phase, which will be held on Friday evening.
England had been hotly tipped as potential winners of the World Cup and were expected to be too strong for the Polish pairing of Mateusz Sniegocki and Radoslaw Babica.
Majid just edged the lag and England were well positioned after the break. Peach produced a 1-4 combination but left Majid unsighted on the 1-ball. He tried a kick shot but left the 1-ball in the middle of the table to give the Poles an early chance.
They accepted the opportunity and cleared up the rest of the rack for an early 1-0 lead.
With no clear shot at the start of the second, Poland opted to push out and, after a lengthy safety battle, Sniegocki left Majid a table-length attempt at the 1-ball into the bottom right pocket, which he gratefully took.
However, Peach missed a straight forward 8-ball as it rattled around in the jaws of the bottom left pocket but would not drop before Poland made it 2-0.
The Poles then ran out from the break in the third for 3-0 to give England an uphill task. There was controversy in the fourth as, during a high-class safety exchange, referee Michaela Tabb had to speak to Sniegocki as Majid thought he was being sharked when he was down at a shot and facing where the two Polish players were sitting.
But England had the last laugh in the rack as they finally put one on the scoreboard, although they still trailed 1-3. They reduced the deficit further by taken the next as well for two in a row after losing the first three.
The fightback came to an abrupt halt though as England ran out of position in the sixth and Babica downed the 9-ball to restore the two-rack advantage for the Polish outfit.
Things got worse for the English as the Poles, who were striking the cue ball with authority, produced a flawless effort and were never in any trouble in the seventh to claim the rack and stretch their lead to three at 5-2.
Just when things were looking desperate for Majid and Peach, they were thrown a tournament lifeline as Sniegocki scratched off the break and the two British players did the rest to bring it back to 3-5.
The game changed again in the next as Peach was trying to play safe but made an unforced error when he clipped the 9-ball instead of the 1-ball, which was just behind. This proved costly as, with ball-in-hand, Sniegocki made a 1-9 combination and England, at 3-6 down, were in trouble.
But Majid then produced a 1-9 combination of his own to quickly pull one back for 4-6. England ran out the next from the break and were showing a good fighting spirit as the scoreboard now showed 5-6.
A high-risk move from Babica went spectacularly wrong to help England win their third rack in a row to bring the score level after they had looked dead and buried. Babica was needing to hit the 2-ball and tried to jump over both the red 3 and brown 7 but crashed into the latter.
England soon clinched their fourth in a row to move to the hill as Majid, who had earlier been unsuccessful with a 2-9 carom, made an 8-9 combination with Poland praying for another chance.
They did not get it as the English pair made it five in a row to complete a fabulous turnaround and book a meeting against Finland in the last 16.