Gritty Advani, Chandra move on

Gritty Advani, Chandra move on

Ace cueist Pankaj Advani struggled to hit top gear for the second day in succession but Kamal Chawla sailed past his mediocre opponent as the Indian juggernaut continued to roll at the IBSF World Snooker Championship here on Thursday.

While Advani, still trying to come to terms with competitive snooker after dallying with billiards over the last few months, defeated Hong Kong’s Chi Wai Au 4-0 (99-24, 67-39, 65 (53)-0, 84 (63)-45), Chawla didn’t break much sweat in dusting off UAE’s Marwan Alfalasi 4-1 (97 (51)-0, 97-0, 76-41, 23-69, 77-1) at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.

Manan Chandra, a dangerous floater playing on a wild card, overcame some early struggles to edge past Philippine Alvin Barbero 4-3 (31-91, 112 (62)-1, 17-59, 28-52, 86-24, 69-42, 58-26) in a three-and-quarter-hour contest as most cueists in attendance here found it difficult to get a grip of the tables and poor air-conditioning.

There was good news on the women’s front too for India with reigning national champion Vidya Pillai, fast-rising Amee Kamani, Chitra Magimairaj and Neena Praveen all registering comfortable wins to brighten their chances of qualifying for the knock-outs.

Advani, just like his opener on Wednesday, produced a performance well below his best against Chi. Although he can be forgiven as he started his snooker training just weeks ago after putting his complete focus on billiards, the 12-time world champion committed some errors that he wouldn’t make even in his sleep in normal circumstances.

Whenever he seemed headed towards building a big break, he missed some regulation pots. In the first frame he missed a red to centre-left while on a 47-point break and in the second, while going good on 45 points, he failed to pot an easy yellow to the bottom right.

In the third frame too he missed a red to the centre-left while on 53 points as the intended fluency he was seeking to achieve never came. Despite that, the 29-year-old Bengalurean carried far too many guns for Chi, whose sloppiness and failure to cash on the minor chances presented by Advani spelt his doom.
“I’m just warming up at my own pace,” said Advani. “I’m just getting used to the tables that are vastly different from what we get on the pro tour. I’m glad that I got to play the two toughest matches of my group at the start and come out unscathed.”

Chawla, a bronze medallist at the 2011 Championship held here, was too good for Alfalasi. The 34-year-old was silken in his potting, dismissing his opponent who failed to muster more than three pots in a row in the opening three frames.

Taking things for granted in the fourth frame, Chawla was given a rude shock when the Emirati pocketed it in scratchy fashion. A seasoned campaigner, Chawla quickly tightened his game, flooring Alfalasi in the fifth frame to gallop away to victory.

Manan, a delight to sore eyes when on song but struggling with his form this season, lost the opening frame against Barbero but hit back quickly in the second to level things. Barbero, however, won the next two frames as defeat loomed large for Manan. The Delhiite regained his composure, showing plenty of grit in a tetchy deciding frame to script his second straight victory of the championships.
DH News Service

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