Advani to take on Bhaskar in title round

Karnataka’s B Bhaskar scored a hard-fought victory over former champion Alok Kumar to set up a second successive final against holder Pankaj Advani in the 79th National billiards championship here on Thursday.

Down 2-3 in the best-of-seven frames 150-up semifinal, Bhaskar raised his game when it mattered most to down the five-time champion 4-3 (150 (123)-30, 121 (102)-150 (102), 9-152 (113), 152 -28, 19-151 (124), 151 (114)-118 (52), 150 (108)-103 (85)) in a nail-biting encounter at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana.

In Friday’s final, Bhaskar will lock horns with top seed and favourite Pankaj Advani, who swept aside fellow PSPB cueist Sourav Kothari 4-0 (151 (53, 81)-31, 150 (114)-100 (92), 151 (56)-81, 151 (85)-34).

Bhaskar started with a brilliant break of 123 to spell out his intentions. PSPB cueist Alok, however, responded in fine fashion, notching up a 102-point break to take the second frame that also saw Bhaskar posting a 102 break.

Another century flowed from Alok, a 113 helping him take a 2-1 lead before Bhaskar hit back to level the match at 2-2. Alok cracked a 124 in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead but Bhaskar hung on, pushing the contest into a decider with a 114-point effort in the sixth.
In a closely-fought final frame that saw both cueists going great guns, it was Bhaskar’s 108 that powered him past the finish line and another crack at Advani.

Meanwhile,  local girl Arantxa Sanchis etched her name on the women's billiards trophy for the first time, beating the seasoned Meenal Thakur in a tight five-game all-Maharashtra final. The impressive teenager scored a 3-2 (51-75, 76-38, 76-32, 37-76, 75-1) win.

Results: Men: Billiards, semifinals: Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Sourav Kothari (PSPB) 4-0 (151 (53, 81)-31, 150 (114)-100 (92), 151 (56)-81, 151 (85)-34); B Bhaskar (Kar) bt Alok Kumar (PSPB) 4-3 (150 (123)-30, 121 (102)-150 (102), 9-152 (113), 152-28, 19-151 (124), 151 (114)-118 (52), 150 (108)-103 (85)).
Placings: 5-6: Rupesh Shah (PSPB) bt V Subramanian (Mah) 2-1 (101 (92)-14, 83-101, 101-77);

7-8: Arun Agarwal (Mah) bt V Subramanian (Mah) 2-0 (101-34, 105-7).
Ladies: Billiards, final: Arantxa Sanchis (Mah) Meenal Thakur (Mah) 3-2 (51-75, 76-38, 76-32, 37-76, 75-1).
Third-place play-off: Varsha Sanjeev (Kar) bt I Lahari (AP) 2-0 (51-35, 52-30).

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