SPORT

Rare hat-trick by Advani

MALTA, MARCH 17. India's Pankaj Advani completed a rare hat-trick of titles on Wednesday night by becoming the 2005 IBSF point format World billiards champion. After leading 4-0 at the interval against compatriot Devendra Joshi, the current National champion won two of the four games played on Wednesday evening to win the title 6-2.

With this victory, the 20-year-old from Bangalore has won three prestigious titles in the space of three months. In January he defeated Joshi by four points in the National billiards championship in Mumbai, then in February he lifted the Asian billiards championship with an impressive 5-0 victory against Thailand's Praprut and last night's victory, the most praiseworthy of all, was achieved with his characteristic display of composure and skill.

Equals record

In winning the title, he has also equalled the record held by Malta's Paul Mifsud of winning both the IBSF world snooker and the world billiards. The final began with Advani converting his overnight relief and exhilaration into a break of 134 to win the opening game 150-107 followed with a 105 in the second. Joshi who faced little resistance earlier, failed to hold his nerve reflected in many unforced errors. When Advani won the third, the trend became clear and at the interval, the 20-year-old established a comforting and overwhelming 4-0 advantage.

Costly miss

There was a gap of almost five hours between the two sessions and this gave time to the 38-year-old BPCL sports officer to regroup. He commenced the second session strongly with an unfinished 147 to win the fifth game and looked set to win the sixth as well when his arm refused to go through whilst attempting a regulation cannon at the top of the table. This one missed cannon was the deciding factor in the match. Advani capitalized on that miss with a 113 to lead 5-1 requiring only one more game for the title. With his back to the wall, Joshi responded again with a 146 to reduce his deficit to 5-2 but Advani cueing smoothly constructed a 91 to win the eighth game and match 6-2.

The time format IBSF World billiard championship commenced from Thursday and Advani has already made his intention in the championship clear with breaks of 274 and 118 early on in his opening round-robin match against Singapore's Lim Sheng.

Sourav Kothari, the 20-year-old from Kolkata is trailing by 100 points against Australia's Mathew Bolton and Ashok Shandilya has exhibited impressive form in establishing a 747-244 lead in his ongoing match against Belgium's Martin Spoormans.

The round-robin matches are being played over three hours with the semifinal and final to be played over four and six hours respectively.

The results: Final: (best of 11 games): Pankaj Advani bt Devendra Joshi 6-2. 151 (134) - 107, 150 (105) -39, 150 (83) -93, 151 (112) -65, 44-151 (147), 151 (113) -62, 30-151 (146), 151 (91) -68.

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