Dhruv Sitwala defied a painful arm to tame his protege and club-mate Jaiveer Dhingra and booked a berth in the semifinals of the National billiards championship at the Shubham hall, Mahanagar, here on Tuesday.
Alok Kumar and Sourav Kothari saw off minor challenges from their respective opponents, while B. Bhaskar upset reigning Asian champion Rupesh Shah in the other quarterfinal contests.
Sitwala will meet Kothari, while Alok Kumar will face Bhaskar in the last four in the morning session on Wednesday, followed by the final in the evening.Commanding display
Sitwala gave a commanding performance to notch up a hat-trick of century breaks and crush Dhingra 150 (138)-9, 150 (103)-55, 151 (101)-5, 150-43 in the best-of-seven-frame affair. Sitwala, who had struggled in the 100-up format during the group stage, was far more comfortable in the longer version. The Mumbai-based player, who applied a pain reliever twice on his right arm, kept everyone hooked to his table with his fluent game, instant decision-making and superb game plan.
“I have been facing the muscle spasm for some time. I have stopped medication because of the National championship. It is better to apply the spray and play with a little pain than get entangled with some unnecessary controversy,” said Sitwala.Flawless potting
Sitwala accumulated points at a faster pace through delicate in-offs and flawless potting to amass his biggest break (138) and enjoy a gap of 132 points in the opening frame. Dhingra had his chances, but was too demoralised to make a fightback.Fine touch
Sitwala continued with his fine touch to garner two more century-breaks and take the next two frames comfortably. The 41-year-old, leading 142-9 in the fourth frame, failed to pot the red ball but kept his cool to finish off the match in style. “I was not worried after missing the red. I knew he (Dhingra) would not be able to make a comeback,” he said.
Alok Kumar struggled to concentrate before sealing the issue against the young Malkeet Singh. Kothari played watchfully to score two 100-plus breaks and beat an off-colour Brijesh Damani.
The neck-and-neck fight between Bhaskar and Rupesh tested the patience of everyone involved in the match. The two cueists were too cautious and did not give an inch as the contest swung from side to side.
Rupesh made an impact with a century-break in the fourth frame, but Bhaskar replied strongly. An uninterrupted accumulation of 151 points in the fifth frame boosted Bhaskar’s confidence.
The five-time runner-up continued with his good work to emerge as the winner after a marathon five-hour tussle.
The results (quarterfinals): Dhruv Sitwala bt Jaiveer Dhingra 150 (138)-9, 150 (103)-55, 151 (101)-5, 150-43; Sourav Kothari bt Brijesh Damani 152 (117)-89, 150-32, 151 (108)-82, 150-23; Alok Kumar bt Malkeet Singh 150-119, 152-37, 150-110, 151 (146)-58; B. Bhaskar bt Rupesh Shah 151-97, 24-150, 150-43, 48-150 (118), 151 (151)-8, 82-150 (90), 150-21.