Brilliant Chawla advances

Eight Indians make it to knockout phase

Having already secured his passage into the Thursday’s knockout stage with four lop-sided wins from as many matches, the 26-year-old warmed up for the business end nicely with a 4-1 (103 (103)-0, 29-72, 102 (50)-0, 79 (65)-20, 79-8) drubbing of Switzerland’s Pascal Camenzind at the KSBA hall.

The victory helped him maintain pole position in Group G, the ace cueist getting a bye to the round-of-32 along with compatriot Kamal Chawla. Six other Indians also qualified for the round-of-48 -- a play-off where the second and third placers in the group phase battle it out with the winner advancing to the round-of-32.

Determined, focused and looking sharp as ever, Advani kick-started his contest against Camenzind just the way he would have envisaged. On song from the moment he took the first crack, Advani had the decent audience that had gathered to see him spellbound with a smashing break of 103 – his third century show of the tournament – giving an instant indication of the things to come.

The Swiss number 2, however, bounced back immediately by winning the second frame to bring things level before Advani, re-established his authority with breaks of 50 and 65 to open up a handy 3-1 lead. Taking nothing for granted, Advani then sealed Camenzind’s fate, pocketing the fifth frame by piecing together small yet timely breaks.

While Pankaj may have been the man in spotlight at his second home, perennial underachiever and dark horse of the tournament Manan Chandra had a great chance to share it, if not steal it. But the 30-year-old once again flattered to deceive, producing superb shots in one frame followed by mediocre ones in the other to eventually go down 1-4 to Thailand’s 2008 champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Chandra started off well, tiny breaks of 30 and 12 giving him a 42-9 lead in the opening frame. However, he missed a regulation red pot, allowing the impressive Thepchaiya to make a comeback. Although, struggling to concentrate hard due to the flurry of activities in the surrounding tables, Thepchaiya showed glimpses of his enormous talent with a break of 45 before mistiming the pink.

Chandra then sunk the pink and black to take a 1-0 lead before being reduced to mere spectator by the Thai who just switched several gears up. Potting as smooth as his silk shirt and producing one terrific shot after the other, Thepchaiya was too hot for Chandra to handle.

Perhaps the shot of the tournament so far came when Thepchaiya cut the red from a near impossible acute angle to the top right before leveling things with 47-point break in the second.  Thereafter, the Thai was unstoppable, flooring Chandra with his impeccable break-building and superb cue-ball control.

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