Pankaj Advani and Kamal Chawla chalked up contrasting victories to enter the semi-finals of the IBSF World snooker championship here on Friday.
Advani, though nowhere near his best, carried enough ammunition to bring down Belgium’s Peter Bullen 6-2 (71-07, 00-123, 34-75, 92-21, 67-60, 70-09, 69-16, 80-45) while Chawla, the 32-year-old from Bhopal, overcame another Belgian, Kevin van Hove, 6-5, in a tight match.
In the semi-finals to be played later in the day, Advani takes on Welshman Lee Walker who ousted former champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the precocious Thai, 6-2, while Chawla faces Iran’s Hossein Vafaei Ayouri who beat Brendan O’Donnoghue of Ireland 6-3.
Advani started off on a bright note as he opened the proceedings by crafting a break of 62 to pocket the first frame. However, Bullen responded strongly with a 123 clearance followed by a break of 64 that put the Belgian 2-1 ahead. However, the 26-year-old Bangalorean took the next two frames on a run of 62 in the fourth and a 48 in the fifth for a 3-2 advantage.
“I was rattled by the century break and also the 64 in the third frame. He was potting virtually everything in sight and I realised that I needed to do something different to get back into the Imatch.
“Luckily for me, I got a good opening in the fourth and in the next frame, I made a crucial blue to pink clearance for a 3-2 lead. I feel, that was the turning point of the match,” said Advani.
In the next three frames, Advani kept things tight and under control. Runs of 63 and 55 took him to 5-2 and early in the eighth, he laid a near-perfect snooker leaving the cue ball tight behind the green. Bullen made six unsuccessful attempts to come out of the snook, conceding 27 points in the process and on his seventh attempt, he left Advani on a small break that proved decisive.
“I didn’t take any chances in the eighth. The reds were in a tight bunch and I didn’t want to risk opening it. The snook behind the green got me some useful points and I built on that.
“It certainly wasn’t my best match, but I tried to make every visit count since I knew what Bullen was capable of. At this level, you can’t really afford to give any chances to your opponent,” Advani said.
On the other hand, Chawla, who had ousted Alok Kumar 5-4 in a four-hour marathon on Thursday night, survived yet another punishing encounter that not only underlined his abundant talent but also the inconsistency that has denied him more success.
Leading 3-1 and 5-4, Chawla cramped up to allow his opponent back into the match although van Hove was as error-prone, missing sitters and generally tense.
“After losing the first frame, I played well in the next three for 3-1. Thereafter, my cueing went awry and I guess, it had to with the alignment or whatever. I started missing a lot of shots and he played well to come back.
“I was really tense in the second half of the match, but luckily, I got my game back and won. But it was a very close match and am happy that I won,” said Chawla who was a quarter-finalist at the 2009 World championship in Hyderabad.