Indian cueist Pankaj Advani on Sunday created history by becoming the first player in the world to win world titles in the long and shorter formats of both billiards and snooker by pocketing the IBSF World 6-Red snooker Championship, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Eygpt.
Advani, India’s poster boy of cue sports, defeated Kacper Flilpiak of Poland in the final that lasted barely an hour to win his maiden 6-Red world title and ninth overall.
Advani, who has won 7 world titles in billiards and 1 in snooker, added a new kind of world title to his overflowing cabinet of trophies.
He won both World snooker titles on debut – the IBSF World Snooker Championship, China and this one, the IBSF 6-Red World Snooker Championship in Egypt.
This win takes Pankaj to highest tally of world titles by any Indian cueist in the Open (Men’s) category.
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After a strong start with the aid of two 30 breaks, Pankaj went 2-0 up before the Pole clawed one back. The Indian then found himself in a spot of bother as his worthy opponent raced to a lead of 32 points with only the colours, 27 points, left on the table.
Using his billiards prowess and knowledge, the 28-year old Bangalorean placed two snookers to gain 9 points from his opponent in fouls before completing the frame with a brilliant clearance and snatching the Pole’s opportunity to level the match.
From 3-1 up, it was the Pankaj show all the way. The last 3 frames were one-visit affairs, leaving the Polish finalist helpless and the audience mesmerised, claiming the coveted title 6-1.
“This is a dream. I actually wasn’t expecting anything from this championship. For the last two months, I’ve been playing quite a bit of billiards, so to come into a world snooker championship and win it is simply unreal,” an elated Advani said after his win.
“The IBSF as well as the organisers here in Egypt have done a splendid job in conducting such a massive event. A big thank you to the Indian governing body, BSFI and my employer ONGC for their unstinting support.”
Asked how it felt to be the most successful cueist India has ever produced, a humble Advani said, “I’m only 28 and I have a lot more billiards and snooker in me before I start paying attention to such heavy labels.”
“At this point, I’m just thrilled to be able to play quality snooker. And without the love from my mom and the never-ending wisdom of my mind coach – my brother Shree, this would not have been possible. My coach Arvind Savur has always been there for me and till date helps me with my game. I’m blessed to have this magical team by my side.”