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Friday, October 22, 2021

Pankaj Advani lifts Asian Snooker Championship for second successive time

Pankaj Advani began confidently in the summit clash against Amir Sarkhosh of Iran and posted 63 for a convincing win in the ninth and the final frame.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: September 17, 2021 3:19:35 pm
Pankaj AdvaniOn Thursday's final, Pankaj began with 50-plus break in the first (55) and second (50) but in the ninth and the final frame he posted 63 for a convincing win. For all his efforts, Pankaj also went home richer by $7,000.

India’s Pankaj Advani successfully defended the Asian Snooker Championship at the Al Messila, a luxury collection resort & spa, in Doha, Qatar on Thursday evening outplaying Amir Sarkhosh of Iran 6-3 (72-42, 72-0, 70-49, 41-66, 70-17, 30-68, 74-34, 12-50, 64-44) in the best of 11 frames final.

The 36-year-old triumphed in 2019 but in 2017 he was the runner-up. In 2019, Pankaj also became the only player who won the titles in all forms of billiards, snooker, 6Reds, and 10Reds competitions.

Yasin Merchant (1989, 2001), Alok Kumar (2004), Aditya Mehta (2012) were the other Indians who won the championship.

In 2018, Pankaj, a calendar grand slam winner and 23-time world champion, defeated the same Iranian rival 8-2 to win the 15-frame IBSF World Snooker Championship also in Doha.

On Thursday’s final, Pankaj began with 50-plus break in the first (55) and second (50) but in the ninth and the final frame he posted 63 for a convincing win. For all his efforts, Pankaj also went home richer by $7,000.

Pankaj Advani Pankaj Advani with winner’s cup.

“I’m happy to defend the title and pick up from where I left off before the onset of the (Covid-19) pandemic. The gap only increased the drive and hunger to compete and do well on return,” Pankaj was quoted by Indian news agency PTI. The 2020 edition was not held due to the pandemic.

Earlier in the semi-finals, the Indian legendary cueist overcame Cheung Ka Wai of Hong Kong 5-3 117(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.

Cheung set a record of sorts when his century score of 136 in the third frame surpassed the previous record of 126 by Alijalil Ali of Iraq.

Amir, meanwhile, 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).

On Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, Pankaj who is based in Bengaluru brushed aside the challenge of Alijalil Ali 5-3 (11-64, 84-76, 12-70, 64-32, 78-1, 80(64)-0, 54-68, 57-4) and in the pre-quarterfinals, Alijalil blanked Laxman Rawat, another Indian in the fray, 71-12, 66-44, 75-29, 72-61 while 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 break each. Laxman, a 2019 World 6Reds champion, in Group ‘F’ scored one against Omar Alajlani of Saudi Arabia while Pankaj 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, the 2012 Asian champion and national reigning snooker champion, was 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.

Fancied Babar Masih of Pakistan, Habib Subah of Bahrain, Tam and Khamis Alobaidli of Qatar fell by the wayside before reaching the quarterfinals.

The event is the first event for billiards and snooker since March 2020. 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.

Results

Semi-finals: Amir Sarkhosh of Iran bt Haris Tahir of Pakistan 5-3 (112(84)-11, 55-66, 80-00, 46-65, 63-25, 45-69, 66-17, 67-30); Pankaj Advani bt Cheung Ka Wai of Hong Kong 5-3 (117(53)-09, 65-17, 00-136(136), 42-88, 79-01, 00-113(113), 64(61)-37, 68-14)

Quarter-finals: Amir bt Siyavosh Mozayani of Iran 5-2 (69-17, 61-32, 63-17, 28-74, 7-75(52), 73-15, 82(80)-0), Tahir beat Khalid Kamali of the UAE 5-2 (63-32, 94(94)-0, 35-72, 100(77)-32, 15-65(63), 65(64)-8, 108(84)-25); Cheung bt Saleh Mohammed of Afghanistan 5-1 (56-43, 55-61, 109(78)-9, 91(76)-12, 100(63)-20, 61-17); Pankaj bt Alijalil Ali of Iran 5-3 (11-64, 84-76, 12-70, 64-32, 78-1, 80(64)-0, 54-68, 57-4)

Indians only

Pre-quarters: Alijalil bt Laxman Rawat of India 4-0 (71-12, 66-44, 75-29, 72-61), Pankaj bt Tam Yun Fung of Hong Kong 4-2 (33-70, 90-01, 74-60, 119(80)-08, 13-65, 55-24)

Group A: Pankaj Advani bt Ankit Man Shrestha of Nepal 4-0 (70-23, 67-43, 75-01, 70(62)-05); bt Mohammed Sharshani of Qatar 4-0 (73-01, 96-09, 120(70)-05, 53-21); bt Abdulrahman Saif of the UAE 4-0 (80(70)-31, 69-56, 74-44, 64-07);

Group F: Laxman Rawat bt Ahmed Jabhan of Yemen : 4-0 (68-13, 83-28, 64-17, 74-17); bt Mohammad Al-Binali of Qatar : 4-0 (64(64)-09, 79-02, 76-22, 83(56)-09); bt Omar Alajlani of Saudi 4-2 (36-66, 109(109)-25, 72-23, 67-30, 39-79(56), 64-52)

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