Murphy and Bingham Poised for Final Showdown

On the 17th and final day at the Crucible, Monday will see either Shaun Murphy or Stuart Bingham crowned as the 2015 world champion.

Murphy and Bingham compiled a brace of centuries each bringing the tournament total to 84, a new record - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Murphy and Bingham compiled a brace of centuries each bringing the tournament total to 84, a new record – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The English duo served up a treat on the opening day of the final on Sunday, with 2005 champion Murphy boasting a narrow 9-8 advantage over his friend and countryman.

Twice it looked as though the 32 year-old was going to pull away from Bingham, the underdog making his maiden appearance at this stage of the prestigious tournament.

At 3-0 down, ‘Ballrun’ responded to take four out of the next five frames to tie the scores at 4-4 after the afternoon bout of play.

In the second session, a barrage of big breaks from Murphy saw him race clear once more, this time by a four frame cushion that seemingly had his opponent on the ropes.

However, 38 year-old Bingham has rarely let the occasion get to him throughout the blue-riband event, indeed usually rising to it instead, and so that proved as he again fought back with scintillating snooker to trail by just a single frame overnight.

It leaves the scenario set perfectly for a final day that could provide plenty of further twists and turns as the crucial winning line draws into sight.

So far the showdown will be remembered for its sizable contributions, with four centuries and 14 half-century breaks already, but the tension is bound to intensify heading into the third and fourth sessions – especially if they remain dueling toe to toe.

Both are at varying junctures of their careers but triumph on centre stage at the Crucible Theatre would mean the world to either.

Murphy is bidding to collect his second crown a decade after his stunning win as a qualifier in 2005.

For Bingham, it would mark his maiden victory following more than twenty years of hard graft on the cicruit, amid a genuine passion he holds for the game.

Because of his experience on the big stage, the smart money remains on Murphy, but Bingham’s free approach to enjoying his moment in the spotlight, as well as his determination to seize the opportunity he might never have again, may yet spur him on to the ultimate prize.

Many have questioned the apparent size of the six pockets, whether they are of regulation standard or if there has been something added to the cloth or jaws in order to allow a smoother transition into the bag for the ball.

Unquestionably, these queries have merit because it does appear quite obvious that some of the shots that would never normally go in have wriggled down the hole relatively easily.

That said, I feel that’s a concern to be raised subsequent to the conclusion of the championship because there is a chance, on social media at least, that it could taint the achievement of whoever emerges with the trophy.

At the end of the day, the table is the same for both players and the pair has provided us with a thoroughly entertaining showpiece finale so far.

Whether achieved by potting balls or telling tactical play, the objective is to get to 18 frames the fastest, and the man who does just that will be a fully deserving world champion.

The third and fourth sessions start at 2pm and 7pm GMT respectively.

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