8th September, Kuching: National youth, Wan Muhammad Zarif Ikram needed a second match to beat challenger, Nabil Aiman B Mantaib of Sabah, 234-182 for the Youth U-25 Masters title of the Sarawak International Open Bowling Championships 2023.
Nabil Aiman had earlier outclassed second-seed, Vilinkorn Kledkaew of Thailand, 237-136 to set up the finale with Wan Muhammad Zarif. In the title match, a failure to convert a 2-pin spare in the third frame from Wan Muhammad Zarif gave Nabil Aiman the confidence to roll a double strike in the fourth and fifth frames for a 21-pin lead.
Wan Muhammad Zarif responded by rolling three consecutive strikes from frame 5 to draw level with the Sabahan but Nabil Aiman struck twice in the tenth frame to edge Wan Muhammad Zarif, 212-205 forcing the tie into the second deciding match.
With the nerve out of the way after the first game, the topseed got off to a cracking start in the decider by rolling six consecutive strikes. A first frame split and a seventh frame split decided the tie well before the final frame with Wan Muhammad Zarif easily taking the match and the title, 234-182.
Wan Muhammad Zarif walked away with the top prize of RM8,000 (approx. US$1,700) as champion while Nabil Aiman settled for RM4,000 as first runner-up. The Thai took home RM2,000 as second runner-up. Prizes were awarded up to 12th position.
Meanwhile in the earlier 8-game Masters roll-off, Melvin Gilbert Gimang Anak Tingau of Sarawak set the pace leading a field of 60 finalists up to the sixth game after which Vilinkorn took over the running for the next two games.
Wan Muhammad Zarif snatched top spot in his final game to advance to the stepladder finals with 1885. The Thai finished second with 1867 and Nabil Aiman third with 1784. National bowler, Mohammad Hafiz Zainuddin missed the cut by 29 pins finishing in fourth.
The pace-setter, Melvin Gilbert Gimang ended in a disappointing seventh with 1739 behind Muhammad Adam Darwish of Penang in fifth with 1749 and 2023 Thailand Open first runner-up, Nerven Netaneel of Malaysia in sixth with 1746.
The Classified Masters finals will be contested later this evening over 8 games and a final position-round game to determine the champion. The Open division Masters finals will be staged at 10:00 hrs tomorrow.
Photos by Terence Yaw in Kuching, Sarawak.