Pankaj Advani steps into frame

Beats Marcus Campbell,ranked 43 spots above him,to follow Aditya Mehta into Round Two.

Written by Raakesh Natraj | New Delhi | Published: October 16, 2013 4:05 am

It was one of those games where the scores say pretty much all there is to say about what happened. Pankaj Advani beat Marcus Campbell,ranked 43 places above him in the world rankings at 29 with a 3-1 (97-14,65-49,59-63,134-14,59-19) scoreline. Going by rankings,it was an upset,and as the frame scores show,it was rather one-sided.

The higher ranked Scot barely put his arms up as Advani shot him down.

Advani dominated the first frame. The second and third could have gone either way — Advani picked up one and Campbell the next. At around this stage,it was becoming evident that Campbell was not having the best of days,and that the distinctly more consistent Advani was fast becoming the favourite.

As if to underline the swing in momentum in his favour,Advani smashed in a century break in the fourth. It was a matter of mopping up from then on,but Advani’s play had to come down from the highs of the previous frame and it did. Still,the error-prone Campbell had too many leaks in his own game to commandeer his ship back into contention. Campbell missed a few easy pots in the fifth,and Advani,as he had done all game,was there to make the mistakes count.

Advani follows Aditya Mehta into the second round,and for a few reasons — that they are the lone Indians in the UK-based pro snooker circuit is one,that they are more or less the same age is another (both were born in 1987 though Advani is a few months older) — the two are fated to get mentioned in the same breath for some time.

They aren’t really rivals,not in the most competitive sense of the word. Though both have been trying their hand at the pro circuit for almost the same length of time in the recent past,the pair have rarely met each other in tournaments. But still,thanks to his billiards fame,Advani is a celebrity,while Mehta,despite being one of the country’s youngest national champions,has the reputation of being a bit of a plodder.

Advani turned pro a year after Mehta,but the Bangalore-based cueist has the better finishes in the more glamorous tournaments.

Stylistically too,the two are rather distinct. Mehta’s play is built around effeciency and is staggered out at a slower pace while Advani is a faster,smoother presence at the table. It is tempting to say Advani is the more natural of the two. Still,neither has broken out at the international level,at least for now.

Advani is ranked 71 and Mehta 72. So whatever the stylistic departures,one has been (only) as effective the other. And the pair have always maintained in most interviews that they think it is only beneficial if there is one other Indian in the pro tour,which demands that players spend a good part of the year abroad.

Still,in thinking of the two,it is difficult to completely disregard the element of competition. Surely,on the rare occasions when both are to progress deep into a tournament (and it could happen here,in the only tour event in India),where they finish with respect to each other will matter. Advani,scheduled to play World No. 11 Mark Allen,certainly has the tougher draw. Mehta will face Hammad Miah,ranked 31 slots below him at 103. Considering how heavy the competition in the tournament is,neither will be looking beyond the next round.

Wednesday’s games: Aditya Mehta (72) vs Hammad Miah (103),1.30 pm; Pankaj Advani (71) vs Mark Allen (11),8 pm.

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