Brijesh Damanii goes down fighting in his first major final

Pankaj Advani gave his home crowd a lot to cheer about while winning the inaugural O.B. Agarwal Memorial 6 red snooker National championship title, with a hard fought 8-7 (25-54, 51-0, 43-9, 60-1, 29-5, 0-69, 36-33, 30-38, 31-35, 38-33, 6-48, 47-19, 11-65, 48-2, 33-2) win over West Bengal's Brijesh Damani, in the final here on Monday.

The applause was no less for the ‘tenacious' Bengal cueist, who fought till the very end before shaking the hand of the 24-year-old champion.

Damani, playing his first major final, proved to be no pushover as Advani found to his dismay. Having breezed through in his earlier outings, Advani, after dropping the first frame, went up 4-1 and 5-2. But Damani had other ideas and roared back in great fashion with some brilliant potting and a decent ‘safety' play.

A 69 break in the sixth frame set the tone and after three narrow, low-scoring frames, the match was locked at 6-6. After a break, Damani came back with a steady 27 to go 7-6 up.

Pankaj by his own admission “was nervous” going into the 14th frame. But a long red to the top left pocket, a squeezed in shot, set up his revival and Advani was in the fray again.

At 7-7, there was palpable tension as both the protagonists looked very tentative and nervy, preferring to play safe rather than go for the shots.

Costly foul

A brilliant ‘safety' behind the green helped Advani immensely to rake up the points and a 16 break helped the local lad sit pretty. Damani did extricate himself out of the ‘hole' but when going for a long pot, the 27-year old ‘fouled' by pocketing the cue ball. He promptly conceded by shaking his opponent's hand.

“I am relieved,” admitted Advani after the match, having added this title to the billiards and snooker (15 red) championship which he won in Agra.

Kamal Chawla of Railways quelled Manan Chandra's challenge to win the third place play-off match at 4-3.

The results: Final: Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Brijesh Damani (WB) 25-54, 51(38)-0, 43(34)-9, 60(60)-1, 29-5, 0-69(69), 36-33, 30-38, 31-35, 8-33, 6-48(43), 47-19, 11-65(27), 48 (39)-2, 33-2.

Third place: Kamal Chawla (Rlys) bt Manan Chandra (PSPB) 40-36, 0-42, 16-45, 42-18, 42-26, 0-45, 51-18.

Correction

The scores were right in a snooker report “Pankaj Advani triumphs in a thriller” (“Sport”, March 16, 2010). The tenth frame score was incorrect in the first paragraph. It should have been in favour of Damani.

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