Advani leads Indians' charge in knock-outs

Advani leads Indians' charge in knock-outs

Ace cueist Pankaj Advani huffed and puffed even as the Indian juggernaut rolled in smoothly into the last-32 stage of the Seaways IBSF World Snooker Championship here on Wednesday.

Facing perhaps his stiffest test of the competition so far in trailing 0-2 against Belgian Tomasz Skalski, the 29-year-old Advani raised his game as the pressure rose, scoring a gritty 4-2 (49-81, 37-47, 92-06, 61-37, 72-23, 83-37) victory at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.

Seven of his other compatriots -- Manan Chandra, Lucky Vatnani, Sundeep Gulati, Shivam Arora, Varun Madan, Brijesh Damani and Laxman Rawat – also scored contrasting victories in their respective last-64 encounters as the Indian camp enjoyed a wonderful outing on the very knock-out round day of the competition.

The only disappointment for the hosts was Kamal Chawla, who slipped to a 3-4 defeat against Australian Adrian Ridley after leading 3-0 and seemingly on course to becoming the first Indian to make the last-32 grade.

Most of the Indians flourished as did the Chinese teen sensations Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao. While 17-year-old Xintong produced another eye-catching performance in packing off Antonis Poullos (Cyprus) 4-0 (89 (81)-0, 58-33, 70-43, 83 (83)-21) in just 45 quick minutes, 14-year-old Bingtao showcased his potential as well with a 4-0 annihilation of Poland’s Mateusz Baranowski.

Advani, the current flag-bearer of Indian cue sports, appeared in all sorts of trouble against the risk-taking Skalski. While most of the Indians were off to sparkling starts in the adjacent tables, Advani was left bewildered by Tomasz for an hour.

Aware that he was playing a 12-time world champion with a sound safety game, the 25-year-old Skalski chose the go-for-broke ploy in the opening two frames and it worked to a nicety, leaving the crowd in utter disbelief.

Rifling some stunning long-rangers between silken close pots, Skalski made the best of all the chances that he got. Rarely during the two frames did he appear flustered, pulling off some superb pots and even showing good sense of angles in rescuing himself from difficult snookers presented by Advani.

While he polished off the opening frame without much of a hassle, he was tested a bit in the second. Interestingly poised at 37-29 in favour of Advani, Skalski potted a long green in stunning fashion before sinking the next three colour balls to jump into a 2-0 lead.
A tenacious fighter known to rise when the chips are down, Advani quickly gauged his opponent to stage a fine rally. Banking more on his safety play, Advani barely presented Skalski any chance to operate freely that frustrated the Belgian.

With very little coming his way and his own safety game not the best in business, Skalski had no option but to make things happen. In doing so, he presented Advani the chances and the Indian, like a waiting predator, lashed onto in the next three frames to take a 3-2 lead.

He potted well during the crunch situations, although nothing major, but scoring the ones when needed to keep always himself ahead. Seemingly on a roll, he then lost his cool -- a rare occurrence -- in the sixth frame when after missing a regulation blue pot to centre-left pocket he admonished himself for letting slip a great chance to seal victory.
However, Skalshi failed to capitalize on that error and after a few minor visits gave Advani an opening, which the Indian grabbed with both hands to completely shut the door on the Belgian.

“Guess, I need to win ugly,” said a relieved Advani. “I have to play more like (Rafael) Nadal than (Roger) Federer.”

Men (Round of 64): Muhammad Sajjad (Pak) bt Keng Kwang Chan (Sin) 4-2 (83-04, 84 (84)-00, 35-59, 67 (54)-03, 33-70, 85 (61)-41); Duane Jones (Wal) bt Sanderson Lam (Eng) 4-2 (65-57, 96 (62)-0, 41-74 (74), 61-18, 0-73 (62), 75 (52)-12); Keen Hoo Moh (Mas) bt Kok Leong Lim (Mas) 4-1 (58-52, 1-118 (85), 71-24, 93 (66)-00, 12-83 (77), 64 (46)-10); Thor Chuanleong (Mas) bt Ang Boon Chin (Sin) 4-0 (72-69 (60), 84-15, 60-24, 68-0); Manan Chandra (Ind) bt Muhammad Asif (Pak) 4-2 (71-06, 67-41, 28-85, 70-41, 12-67, 95-00); Nick Jennings (Eng) bt Hamza Akbar (Pak) 4-1 (76-37, 77-22, 40-62, 73-49, 82-0); Ryan Causton (Eng) bt S Dilip Kumar (Ind) 4-0 (69-65, 60-58, 76-25, 62-46); Boonyarit Keattikum (Tha) bt IV Rajeev 4-0 (80 (53)-45, 76-42, 82-09, 79(52)-66); Laxman Rawat (Ind) bt Shahbaaz Adil Khan (Ind) 4–3 (48-65, 67 (52)-60, 64-26, 43-64, 33-59, 72 (52)-16, 79-07); Pankaj Advani (Ind) bt Tomasz Skalski (Bel) 4-2 (49-81, 37-47, 92-06, 61-37, 72-23, 83-37); Shivam Arora (Ind) bt Michael Collumb (Sco) 4-0 (46-45, 86 (85)-11, 70-45, 02-88(82), 71-63); Sundeep Gulati (Ind) bt Patryk Mastowski (Pol) 4-2 (60-25, 123 (68)-11, 46-63 (53), 03-54, 70-00, 68-21); Adrian Ridley (Aus) bt Kamal Chawla (Ind) 4-3 (46-70, 13-51, 13-63, 67-14, 47-33, 82 (42)-46, 79 (46)-06); Zhao Xintong (Chi) bt Antonis Poullos (Cyp) 4–0 (89 (81)-0, 58-33, 70-43, 83 (83)-21); Fabio Anderson Luersen (Bra) bt Nitesh Madaan (Ind) 4-1 (40-60, 115 (88)-8, 103 (70)-15, 73-10, 91(50)-17); Jamie Clarke (Wal) bt Farhan Mirza (Swe) 4–1 (29-59, 63-24, 82 (62)-6, 54-01, 133 (133)-0); Mohd Reza Hassan (Mas) bt Karam Fatima (Syr) 4-0 (59-46, 86-06, 65-0, 65(60)-37); Lucky Vatnani (Ind) bt Siyavosh Mozayani (Irn) 4-3 (3-128 (107), 77-11, 52-74, 68-42, 94 (59) -0, 16-67, 98 (72) -12); Lee Chun Wai (HK) bt Wael Talaat (Egy) 4-2 (31-57, 67-22, 61-36, 24-56, 64-30, 105 (82) -4); Lukas Kleckers (Ger) bt Michael Mengorio (Phi) 4-2 (67-35, 90-38, 58 (51) -63, 11-61, 58-47, 62-61); Mohamed Shehab (UAE) bt Ali Alobaidli (Qat) 4-1 (93 (60)-16, 48-73, 71-61, 74-45, 60-43); Brijesh Damani (Ind) bt Fakhrie Gierdien (RSA) 4-1 (23-69, 66-19, 65-24, 53-51); Amir Sarkhosh (Irn) bt Jason Devaney (Ire) 4-2 (94 (57)-31, 77-42, 79-16, 19-75 (67), 16-48, 63-15); Matthew Bolton (Aus) bt Rahul Ajay Sachdev (Ind) 4-1 (61-48, 75-24, 46-60, 94 (53)-10, 78-56); Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn (Thai) bt Lim Chun Kiat (Sin) 4-3 (73-24, 4-77, 41-53, 65-40, 76-0, 35-64, 82-5); Michael Judge (Ire) bt Mohsen Bukshaisha (Qat) 4-0 (78-45, 90-35, 64-08, 59-22); Chi Wai Au (HK) bt Ehsan Heydari Nezhad (Irn) 4-0 (90 (90)-1, 66-9, 76-16, 101 (85)-05); Chau Hon Man (HK) bt John Whitty (Eng) 4-1 (64-40, 15-103 (74), 79-70, 66-20, 71-35); Varun Madan (Ind) bt Sourav Kothari (Ind) 4-2 (71-14, 65-4, 59-56, 36-65, 21-64, 53-06); Soheil Vahedi (Irn) bt Rupesh Shah (Ind) 4-2 (77 (53)-41, 65-28, 48-80, 81 (34)-45, 13-80, 63 (46)-8); Yan Bingtao (Chn) bt Mateusz Baranowski (Pol) 4-0 (100-24, 64-44, 77 (53)-19, 82 (79)-09); Gareth Allen (Wal) bt Robert Murphy (Ire) 4-2 (76 (67)-43, 74 (57)-35, 80 (80)-0, 24-69, 43-60, 58-52).

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