Updated: September 16, 2021 1:40:47 pm
Defending champion Pankaj Advani of India reached the final of 36th Asian Snooker Championship on Thursday morning after subduing from Cheung Ka Wai of Hong Kong 117(53)-9, 65-17, 0-136(136), 42-88, 79-1, 0-113(113), 64(61)-37, 68-14 in the best of nine frames.
This will be the 36-year-old’s third final after the 2019 triumph and 2017 where he was the runner-up.
The cueist, a calendar grand slam winner and 23-time world champion, overcame some anxious moments in the semi-final as his HK rival, who was two-down, rallied with a century break to win the third and fourth frames. Pankaj wrested the fifth at 79-1 to break the momentum of Cheung who came with a superlative performance of another century break of 113 in the sixth only to lose the steam in the next two.
In the best of 11 frames final to be played in the evening, Pankaj will meet Amir Sarkhosh of Iran who also ended the hopes of Haris Tahir from Pakistan with an identical margin of 5-3 (112 (84)-11, 55-66, 80-0, 46-65, 63-25, 45-69, 66-17, 67-30).
Pankaj is the only player who has won the title in all forms of billiards, snooker, 6Reds, and 10Reds competitions.
On Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, Pankaj brushed aside the challenge of Alijalil Ali from Iran 5-3 (11-64, 84-76, 12-70, 64-32, 78-1, 80(64)-0, 54-68, 57-4), who in the pre-quarterfinals blanked Laxman Rawat, another Indian in the fray, 71-12, 66-44, 75-29, 72-61. Meanwhile, Pankaj showed the exit door to fancied Tam Yun Fung of Hong Kong 33-70, 90-01, 74-60, 119(80)-08, 13-65, 55-24.
Earlier in the group matches, both the Indians pocketed a century each. Laxman, a 2019 World 6Reds champion, in Group ‘F’ scored one against Omar Alajlani of Saudi Arabia while Pankaj, a 23-time World champion, had one against Ali Hussein of Iraq in the last Group ‘A’ match.
Laxman will return home while Pankaj will stay back to compete in the Qatar 6Red World Cup starting Friday.
Aditya Mehta, 2012 Asian champ and national reigning snooker champion, was scheduled to compete here instead of Laxman but failed to make it due to Covid protocol as he is vaccinated with a single dose. The protocol is clear that all travellers to Qatar have to be fully inoculated to enter the Gulf country.
Asian snooker is the first major international championship for Indian cueists after a 19-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another Indian, Ishpreet Singh will compete in the Qatar 6Red World Cup from September 17 to 21 along with national 6Reds champion Pankaj.
At least 42 players from 19 countries participated in the Asian championship including Pakistan, India, Iraq, UAE, Qatar, Nepal, Iran, Hong Kong, Jordan, Palestine, Oman, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria and Mongolia players.
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