Advani pockets title

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Pankaj Advani.
Pankaj Advani.

G. Viswanath

Pune: Pankaj Advani won a record third Asian billiards championship title downing Singapore’s 1.93m tall Peter Gilchrist 5-3 in the final of the Rewale Group Asian billiards final at the P.Y.C. Gymkhana on Sunday.

Manoj Kothari, who has been the Indian team coach when Advani won the Asian title here for the first time in 2005, at Myanmar in 2008 and at Pune again, said the 23-year-old from Bangalore played near flawless billiards.

Soon, the affable champion cueist who received a black jacket on Saturday evening from a patron of green baize sport began a campaign to get rid of the dress code saying its too stuffy and formal.

“We need more eyeballs for billiards and snooker. I think the dress code can be done away with, it’s a bit too formal, the British started it.

“I would suggest a smart formal shirt and trousers. It can be a striped or printed shirt, that’s not a problem. I have talked about this to Geet Sethi.

But the dress code has been there for many decades and it requires a huge procedure for the international federation to change it.

“But I am going to talk to the BSFI to initiate the smart dress code in domestic tournaments, then we can make a point to the international federation. Certainly not jeans, that would be too informal.”

Anda bags snooker

China’s Zhang Anda, the top seed after the league stage, beat Thailand’s Noppom Saegkham 5-1 to win his first Asian under-21 snooker title.

Anda with three century breaks in the tournament maintained an unbeaten record over eight matches to make a lasting impression in the competition. He also received the prize for the highest break.

Gritty Advani

Advani, with close to one hundred billiards buffs watching him in action, finished the nine-frame final in two and half hours.

“This has been a lucky venue for me. It feels absolutely great to rewrite records, create new statistics and to improve the titles tally that you have.

“This is my tenth international title. It’s been a mix of billiards and snooker together. I am quite a satisfied man after winning ten international titles by the age of 23.

“All the matches in this competition were very well contested and in the end it was a matter of one or two misses or shots that really changed the complexion of the match for me.”

It was Advani’s third victory over Gilchrist.

“I lost to him in the same tournament in Doha. He has been playing this tournament very well, that’s why I was a little bit scared. One cannot take too many risks in the 100 points format. I was happy with the touch I got on the white in-off in the eighth frame; I have been practicing this shot. One has to analyse thoroughly before you get into a shot because for one shot there can be 20 different positions and variations.”

Advani said his love for snooker is not any less.

“I have tasted more success in English billiards, the records clearly show it. Snooker is a game of precision and accuracy, whereas billiards, more a game of flow and stamina. I don’t want to give up one for the other, I enjoy playing both.

Touching upon the lack of quality players in billiards and snooker, Advani said: “as Geet Sethi said, every generation has someone who stands out and every champion is challenged by lot of competitors.

“There are a lot of youngsters in India and matches have gone to the wire in the selection trials and national championships.

“There are players like Rupesh Shah, Dhruv Sitwala and Saurav Kothari, they have not won many titles, but they have the ability to win and in snooker we have Manan Chandra and Aditya Metha.”

Advani will receive Rs.5 lakh for winning the Asian title from the Government of India.

The results:

Billiards (final): Pankaj Advani (India) bt Peter Gilchrist 5-3 (101 (74)-50, 8-102 (84), 100 (98)-23, 20 -101, 11-101 (89), 100-86 (84), 100 (92)-0, 100 (54)-39).

Snooker Under-21 (final): Zhang Anda (China) bt Noppom Saegkham (Thailand) 5-1.

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