Hai Lin's heroics put China in sight of semi-finals

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The Independent Online

The hitherto unknown Da Hai Lin helped China score one of the great upsets of the Nations Cup last night.

The hitherto unknown Da Hai Lin helped China score one of the great upsets of the Nations Cup last night.

The 26-year-old from Gansu gained a famous hat-trick of wins to help his team to a surprise 4-3 success over Northern Ireland, throwing the unpredictable Group A wide open.

Hai Lin, the first Chinese player to qualify for the world professional tour, defeated Gerard Greene 73-20 in a tense 23-minute decider. He had earlier got the better of Terry Murphy by potting the final pink and black in frame three, and then teamed up with Marco Fu to beat the Northern Ireland captain, Joe Swail, and Murphy in the doubles. Earlier, the Irish coasted to a 2-0 lead through Greene and Swail but could not maintain their momentum.

China, 100-1 tournament outsiders and beaten 4-1 by the defending champions England last Saturday, can qualify for the semi-finals by defeating the Republic of Ireland on tomorrow. Northern Ireland now need to send the holders crashing out of the competition today in order to reach the last four.

Wales became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals with a 4-2 victory over the World Cup holders Scotland at Reading. The Scots must now beat Thailand in their final group match tomorrow to join the Welsh in the last four.

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