Advani floors Rupesh to enter summit round

Veteran to face fellow PSPB cueist Haria in final

Advani floors Rupesh to enter summit round

Defending champion Pankaj Advani continued with his demolition drive, this time flooring an out of sorts Rupesh Shah to march into the final of the National Billiards Championship here on Sunday.

Looking sharp and meaning business from the very start of the semifinal at the KSBA hall, the 32-year-old hammered four consecutive century breaks to outclass a fellow world champion and PSPB colleague 4-0 (151 (128)-31, 150 (105)-11, 151 (147)-12, 150 (134)-71).

In the title clash on Monday evening, Advani will take on talented youngster Dhvaj Haria after the PSPB cueist dashed the dreams of an all-Bengaluru final by beating veteran B Bhaskar 4-1 in a scrappy affair.

Well aware of the damage Rupesh, a two-time world champion, can cause, Advani arrived for his last-four battle well prepared and utterly focused. Initially he was a little cautious, trying to get a feel of the table on which he was playing for the first time. He also took a little time to assess the rhythm of Rupesh, just keeping things tight and not allowing him a free go.

After some tactical play, Advani then opened up his shoulders, hammering an unfinished break of 128 points to seal the opening frame. He put himself into a difficult position while trying to get his cue ball past the baulkline but he pulled off a stunning cannon to elicit cheers from the small crowd.

Advani started the second frame confidently but missed an in-off while on a 33-point break. However, Rupesh, distracted by his own phone that rang for a second time, could only conjure 11 points. In fact that's how he played for the better part of the match.

While he was reduced to a mere spectator for most parts, he didn't do much whenever Advani presented him with a chance. He struggled to string together decent breaks and then appeared resigned to his fate when Advani hammered an 105-point break to take a healthy 2-0 lead.

Totally on top of his opponent, Advani then started to attack with ferocity. His shots gathered pace, the top-table play was sparkling and his confidence sky high. He peeled off a break of 147 in the third frame before scoring a 134 in the fourth to seal another effortless win and stand just win away from a ninth senior national billiards title.

Haria on the other hand didn't have it all that easy against a seasoned billiards exponent. Although he lost just one frame, the 23-year-old was made to fight for every single point as Bhaskar typically scrapped hard. All frames stood finely balanced at some stage  but  Haria came through in the end thanks to some assured potting and play when the tension was at its peak in each frame.

DH News Service  

Results (semifinals): Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Rupesh Shah (PSPB) 4-0 (151 (128)-31, 150 (105)-11, 151 (147)-12, 150 (134)-71); Dhvaj Haria (PSPB) bt B Bhaskar (Kar) 4-1 (151 (53)-137, 150 (42, 108)-98 (98), 150 (54, 56)-52 (52), 118 (93)-151 (64), 151 (98)-132 (80, 52)).

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