Aditya Mehta, Manu Dev and Neeraj Kumar make last four

Alok Kumar knocked out Pankaj Advani while Aditya Mehta ran up two breaks of over a hundred in his defeat of Kamal Chawla, in the men's snooker quarterfinal at the Hash10 World Sim Nationals, here on Monday. Manu Dev and Neeraj Kumar completed the semifinal line-up.

Pankaj Advani, the defending champion, came into the quarters on the back of a remarkable run, having won 17 straight frames over five games, with the 4-0 defeat of Subrat Das in the pre-quarterfinals lasting just an hour.

Alok Kumar, on the other hand, was on the brink, trailing 0-2 and then 1-3 in the best of seven frames pre-quarterfinal encounter against Vijay Goel, before winning three frames in-a-row to set up the last-eight clash with Advani.

Clash of styles

It was also an interesting clash of styles, with Advani's rapid accumulation going up against the expert defensive play of Alok Kumar.

Expectedly, positions were closed down, and advantage was handed over only grudgingly — Advani's 52 in the fifth frame was the biggest break of the match.

It was nip and tuck for most of the contest, and trailing 1-2 (63-63) in the fourth frame, Advani's defensive lapse with just the pink and the black remaining allowed Alok Kumar to clear the table as the match began to slip away from the defending champion. With just the colour balls remaining, Advani found it difficult to match Alok Kumar's defence all match, eventually losing out 5-2.

The Rafath Habib-Neeraj Kumar encounter too hinged on whose defence would crack first, and decisive breaks were few and far between.

Rafath started with a silken 55, which proved to be the highest by either cueist in the match. After claiming the first frame 82-43, his touch seemed to dessert him as Neeraj Kumar steadily got back into the contest. Most frames were decided by who would yield position in the later stages of the frame, with mostly the colours to play for and Habib came out second best after more than five hours of play.

Aditya Mehta played out a highly entertaining match against Kamal Chawla (who had accounted for Yasin Merchant in the previous round), with both cueists going for their breaks. Mehta warmed up with breaks of 21 and 28 in the first frame before hitting a monstrous 134 in the second-the first break of over a hundred in the main draw of the tournament. He followed that up with 124 in the fourth frame, to take a 3-1 lead.

To Kamal Chawla's credit, he did not buckle in the face of Mehta's stunning break-building, as he bounced back to claim the next frame on each occasion that Mehta made a 100-plus break. That did not prove enough in the end as Mehta progressed 5-2.

Manu Dev was steady throughout in his 5-3 win over Manan Chandra. The match was the first quarterfinal to get over despite it going to eight frames, as both players were committed to an open style of play. Locked 3-3 midway through the match, Manu Dev pulled away, winning the subsequent frames comfortably.

Both the semifinal and the final will be held on Tuesday.

The results (quarterfinals, best-of-nine frames): Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt Kamal Chawla (Rly) 5-2 (60-32, 134-0, 39-77, 138-0, 15-63, 63-27, 72-9).

I.H. Manu Dev bt Manan Chandra (PSPB) 5-3 (15-79, 68-31, 59-12, 43-74, 66-25, 33-79, 85-0, 70-43); Alok Kumar (PSPB) bt Pankaj Advani (PSPB) 5-2 (59-27, 47-58, 63-31, 76-63, 44-73, 67-66, 66-58).

Neeraj Kumar (Rly) bt Rafath Habib (Rly) 5-4 (43-82, 59-29, 66-58, 68-58, 40-65, 41-50, 55-47, 14-76, 45-29).

Pre-quarterfinals (best-of-seven frames): Pankaj Advani bt Subrat Das (Ori) 4-0 (110-16, 75-35, 54-41, 65-34); Manan Chandra bt Rupesh Shah (PSPB) (68-55, 61-37, 60-8, 65-51); Aditya Mehta bt Siddarth Rao (TN) 4-1 (78-20, 76-1, 73-45, 21-69, 77-6); Neeraj Kumar bt Brijesh Damani (WB) 4-2 (69-16, 76-44, 77-1, 27-58, 2-80, 62-7).

Kamal Chwala bt Yasin Merchant (Mah) 4-3 (39-69, 81-0, 51-71, 88-14, 77-0, 22-54, 68-54); Alok Kumar bt Vijay Goel (Del) 4-3 (45-52, 46-67, 73-54, 38-60, 61-28, 74-24, 67-59); Manu Dev bt Pushpinder Singh (Pun) 4-3 (17-56, 15-68, 65-0, 57-43, 81-35, 49-56, 86-1); Rafath Habib bt Sourav Kothari (PSPB) 4-1 (66-64, 63-46, 21-62, 64-51, 55-26).

Semifinal line-up: Aditya Mehta vs. Manu Dev; Alok Kumar vs. Neeraj Kumar.