Advani on a roll

Cue sports

Advani on a roll

After being pushed out of the spotlight the previous year when he failed to win an international title, Pankaj Advani returned to centre stage in smashing style to once again paint the golden hue for cue sports.

In an unprecedented performance from any cueist across the world, the 29-year-old won a stunning four world titles to hog the limelight and show the hunger and desire inside him is still burning bright despite having achieved almost everything the sport has to offer.

Playing as if to prove that 2013 was just a minor aberration in his trophy-laden career, the Bengalurean kick-started an amazing five-month spell in June by winning his maiden World 6-red Snooker Championship in Egypt. In doing so, Advani became the first cueist to win world titles in both long and short formats of both snooker and billiards.

In August, Advani paired up with Rupesh Shah, Devendra Joshi and Ashok Shandliya to defeat a team comprising his compatriots to clinch the World Billiards Team Championship in Scotland.

Then, after letting go of his playing rights on the coveted professional circuit that drew criticism from some quarters, Advani buried all that talk with a sizzling performance at the World Billiards Championship in Scotland.

Determined to prove that his decision was a well thought one as he couldn’t stay away from his first love billiards for long, Advani first regained the points format title by downing Peter Gilchrist before ripping apart Robert Hall in the time format final to become the first cueist to complete a hat-trick of doubles. Advani previously won double in 2005 and 2008.

The four world titles that took his tally to an astonishing 12 -- nobody of his age has won so much – raised plenty of hopes of Advani adding another one when Bengaluru hosted the IBSF World Snooker Championship. However, fatigue and heavy home expectations seemed to take a toll on him as he lost to eventual champion Yan Bingtao in the semifinals.

There were other cueists too who made their presence felt, showing the depth of talent in the country. Kamal Chawla, Faisal Khan and Dharminder Lily won the Asian Snooker Team Championship, defeating Pakistan at Karachi.

Aditya Mehta didn’t set the pulses racing on the pro tour but the Maharashtrian still showed his immense potential. Although he struggled to progress deep in any of the events, the 29-year-old etched his name in history by becoming the first Indian to score the maximum 147-point break on the pro tour at the Paul Hunter Classic.

The women cueists too fared well with the rise of fresh face Amee Kamani being the highlight. The 22-year-old, who switched to cue sports from table tennis in 2010, claimed her maiden international crown when she teamed up with seasoned campaigner Vidya Pillai to bag the bronze medal. She then rode on her individual talent to claim a silver medal at the Australian Open.

R Umadevi Nagaraj also won a silver medal at the World Billiards Championship as medals kept coming for the country at regular intervals.

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