Mehta, Advani delight home fans

Mehta, Advani delight home fans

Indian duo rolls into pre-quarterfinals; Williams drubs world No 2 Selby; Higgins has it easy

Mehta, Advani delight home fans

Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, the two major protagonists of Indian snooker, kept the tri-colour flying high in glorious fashion on the third day of the Indian Open World Ranking Snooker Tournament here on Wednesday.

Hours after Aditya Mehta raised the nation’s hopes with a brilliant 4-1 (20-97 (97), 74 (42)-2, 69-27, 68 (67)-0, 69-60) win over rookie Hammad Miah, Advani laid the icing on the cake with a strategic 4-2 (48-72, 81 (55)-0, 92 (72)-5, 45-87, 69-42, 73-27) defeat of Mark Allen in their respective round-of-32 matches.

In Thursday’s pre-quarterfinals, Mehta will take on two-time world champion Mark Williams, who whipped World No 2 Mark Selby 4-1 (79 (53) -39, 76 (72) -0, 69 (69) -64 (64), 0-105 (92), 100 (100) -0), while Advani will lock horns with the seasoned Stuart Bingham after the Englishman polished off Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon 4-2 (47-69, 72-1, 119 (119) -6, 54-7, 36-99 (67), 62-9).

Four-time world champion John Higgins flexed his muscles in grand style, galloping to a 4-0 victory over Li Yan while Ding Jinhui, one of the young superstars in attendance here, was made to sweat by Mark Joyce before the Chinese regained his composure in the nick of time, escaping to a 4-3 win.

Mehta did most things right in his encounter against Miah. Although he knew he was taking on a 20-year-old tour debutant whom he beat 5-0 in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers, the Mumbaikar hardly took things for granted, thanks to the hard lesson he learnt in the opening frame.

Just when it appeared he was beginning to hit his stride, Mehta, on a 20-point break, missed a regulation pink ball pot to the top right. Miah, whose parents hail from Bangladesh but was born in England, accepted the offer with both hands, smashing a brilliant break of 97 where he appeared like a top pro rather than a greenhorn.

Mehta, now having spent five years on the pro circuit, reworked on his game quickly, tightening his defences and hardly offering any freebies to Miah.

While his safety play was top notch, he also stepped on the gas at the right time to eventually slam the door on Miah.
In the second frame Mehta scored a fine break of 42 points to level the match 1-1 and did another 43-pointer to open up a 2-1 lead. He won the fourth too without much of a difficulty and although he struggled for rhythm in a scratchy fifth, he stayed focused to romp home in style.

Advani, just like Mehta, too lost the opening frame after making a decent start when he scored a break of 37 points. But he missed a regulation red pot and Allen, the 2004 IBSF World Snooker Champion, after a bit of scratching, finished off the opening frame for a 1-0 lead.

That’s when Advani, whose second full season on the pro tour seems to have turned him into a near complete package, drew his experience and guile to pack off Allen.

Allen, the Northern Irishman, struggled with his timing and potting throughout the match. While there were flashes of brilliance, he missed several opportunities while on a break to eventually gift Advani a chance to bounce back.

Known to force the opponents into errors and draw blood, Advani accepted them wholeheartedly, raising his game during the crucial moments to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Results (Round of 32): Robbie Williams bt Andrew Higginson 4-1 (62-18, 75-13, 60-5, 11-73, 103 (103) -0); Michael White bt Anda Zhang 4-3 (8-92 (83), 0-133 (133), 69-23, 55-21, 41-66, 76-40, 79-26); Liang Wenbo bt Dechawat Poomjaeng 4-2 (1-71 (63), 100 (100)-1, 87 (87)-0, 75-11, 47-63, 84-50); Anthony McGill bt Fergal O’Brien 4-1 (63-65, 77 (70)-25, 75-0, 62-44, 60-49); Mark Davis bt Michael Holt 4-1 (1-71, 83 (67)-1, 58-38, 60-11, 75 (51)-0); Aditya Mehta bt Hammad Miah 4-1 (20-97 (97), 74 (42)-2, 69-27, 68 (67)-0, 69-60); Ding Jinhui bt Mark Joyce 4-3 (82 (68)-6, 0-85 (85), 0-88 (88), 49-69, 96 (85)-9, 106 (106)-1, 109 (109)-4); Stephen Maguire bt Tom Ford 4-3 (85-0, 52-71, 59 (59)-79 (79), 60-52, 1-71, 93 (93)-0, 54-46); Mark Williams bt Mark Selby 4-1 (79 (53) -39, 76 (72) -0, 69 (69) -64 (64), 0-105 (92), 100 (100) -0); Mike Dunn bt Ratchayothin Yotharuck 4-0 (85-8, 82-8, 139 (92)-0, 78-1); Neil Robertson bt Rod Lawler 4-2 (0-108 (108), 67-10, 73-49, 67-8, 30-75, 63-14); Joe Perry bt Ricky Walden 4-2 (7-102 (102), 97-30, 80-8, 62-76 (76), 90-20, 115 (85) -0); Pankaj Advani bt Mark Allen 4-2 (48-72, 81 (55)-0, 92 (72)-5, 45-87, 69-42, 73-27); Gary Wilson bt Marco Fu 4-3 (85 (43) -14, 44-64, 62-18, 120 (120) -0, 0-81 (81), 0-137 (137), 99 (55) -31); Stuart Bingham bt Thanawat
Tirapongpaiboon 4-2 (47-69, 72-1, 119 (119) -6, 54-7, 36-99 (67), 62-9); John Higgins bt Li Yan (73 (73) -0, 68-34, 84 (84) -0, 105 (50) -0).

Indians in action today (pre-quarters): Pankaj Advani vs Stuart Bingham (10am); Aditya Mehta vs Mark Williams (1.30 pm). Mehta match live on DD Sports.

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