25th Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships
Malaysia eyeing elusive Masters gold
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29th October, Kuwait: Trios gold medallist, Esther Cheah gave Malaysia hope of capturing the elusive Women's Masters gold medal after topping the first block finals at the 25th Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships on Tuesday.

Team gold medallist, Lee Yeongji and All Events gold medallist, Lee Nayoung set a cracking pace in their opening match to win with 268 and 267 and led the field of 16 finalists. Nayoung took over the running despite losing her second match but kept her momentum going well with 255.

Cheah, who also won her first match with 222, won again in the second match with a stunning 289 to move up to second, just one pin off the leader. Singapore's Bernice Lim won both her first two matches with 251 and 255 to take up third.

The leader added another win in her third match with 253 to remain in the lead. Cheah tied with team-mate, Shalin Zulkifli on 208 to share the 5 pins bonus but slipped behind a third Korean, Baek Seungja taking over second.

The top three finishers in the first block, Ilya Syamim, Esther Cheah and Jung Dawun

Another Singaporean and 2019 Hong Kong Open champion, Ilya Syamim, who won two of her three matches, added a third victory in the fourth match with a sizzling 268 to become the new leader at the halfway point. But the Singaporean only managed to pick up two addition wins in the second half to finished second with 1987 from five wins in total. Cheah won all her remaining four matches, including big scores of 278, 267 and 277 in her last match to lead the field with 2050.

Masters defending champion, Jung Dawun stormed home with a big game of 268 to claim third position behind Stamim with 1967 from four wins and a draw. Lim ended in fourth position with 1960, just seven pins off the Korean. There is no recollection of Malaysia ever winning the Women's Masters gold and Cheah's performance will certainly boost their chances. The men however have won the gold with Rafiq Ismail in 2016 and Adrian Ang in 2008, both in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile spinners ruled the Men's first block with 2018 ABF Tour Thailand leg champion, Lin Pai-Feng of Chinese Taipei leading the first block with 2000 and winning seven of the eight matches played. Singles bronze medallist, Shusaku Asato of Japan won six matches to take up second with 1972.

Doubles gold medallist, Du Jianchao of China spinned his way into third position with 1961 from just four wins. 2018 PBA-WBT Busan Cup champion, Annop Arromsaranon of Thailand missed the top three spots in fourth with 1949, 12 pins off Du.

Doubles silver medallist, Yeri Ramadona of Indonesia, who was leading at the halfway mark, completed the top five with 1926 from four wins. Team gold medallist, Michael Mak of Hong Kong also led after the second match, but ended in ninth position.

Kuwait's two finalists and Trios silver medallists, Mostafa Almousawi and Jasem Alsaqer ended their first block in tenth and 11th positions and close to 100 pins from third.

Du Jianchao, Lin Pai-Feng and Shusaku Asato finishing in the top three of the men's division

The finalists will resume with their second block of seven matches and a position-round match to determine the top 3 women and top 3 men advancing to the stepladder shootout finals. Before the two remaining gold medals at stake from the Masters finals, Malaysia is lead the medal tally with 5 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medals. Korea is second with a medal haul of 3-3-2 and China is third with 1-1-1 while Hong Kong is fourth with just one gold medal.

Photos by Terence Yaw in Kuwait.

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