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England Keep World Cup Hopes Alive

England edged a 3-2 win over China’s B team on day two of the Nongfu Spring Snooker World Cup to avoid a second consecutive defeat.

Stuart Bingham and Mark Selby

Bingham and Selby discuss tactics

After a shock 4-1 reverse against Thailand on the opening day, the English pair of Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham came out on top in their second match against local favourites Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao in Wuxi, China. With the score tied at 2-2, Selby won a vital final frame against Zhou with a break of 57.

England are second-bottom of Group D with four points, but they are just three points behind leaders Thailand, with three matches still to play. The Republic of Ireland and China B both have six points. The top two in each group of six go through to the quarter-finals.

“It’s difficult to find a rhythm in this format, playing one frame and then sitting one out,” admitted world number one Selby. “Yesterday Thailand deserved to beat us. Today we dug in and I played a bit better, especially in the last frame. We’re definitely in the hardest group – Thailand are leading but they still have two tough matches. It won’t be easy to qualify but we’ll be trying our best.”

Malta are the only team with a perfect record after two days as Tony Drago and Alex Borg have scored 5-0 wins over Austria and Norway. China’s A team Ding Junhui and Xiao Guodong are second in Group A thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of Singapore.

Scottish pair John Higgins and Stephen Maguire suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat to Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo and Itaro Santos in Group C. Scotland are now behind Belgium, who saw off Malaysia 5-0.

Higgins said: “I missed an easy pink in the third frame which would have put us 2-1 up and that was the key point of the match. We’re disappointed to lose. The matches are very short and you need a bit of luck to win. Stephen and I have a strong partnership – we win as a team and lose as a team, rather than putting any blame on each other. But playing as a team is hard because you’re thinking about not letting your partner down.”

Wales and Northern Ireland look to be in control of Group C with nine points apiece. They both scored 4-1 wins on Tuesday, against Poland and Qatar respectively.

Tony Drago's Malta is the only team with a perfect record

Tony Drago’s Malta is the only team with a perfect record