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Green baize king

other Updated: Sep 05, 2008 23:57 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
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Pankaj Advani has been around in the international circuit for so long that the 23-year-old is already being called a veteran.

Having won the IBSF World Snooker crown at 19, the Bangalorean has been dominating the billiards circuit for the last three years.

On Friday, Advani won his fourth IBSF world billiards crown, beating compatriot Geet Sethi 6-1 in the point-format final and set himself up for a grand double when he begins his defense of the time-format crown in Bangalore on Saturday.

"I never expected the match to be one-sided," he told Hindustan Times over phone from Bangalore. "Geet was playing very well all through the week while I had struggled in the semifinal last night.

"But I told myself that today was a new day. If I could lift the quality of my play and get a good start then nothing was impossible," he added.

Advani did just that, winning the first four frames on the trot. He was a bit tentative in the opening frame but then stitched two half-century breaks and signed off the opening session with an unfinished 150 break.

Sethi did managed to win the fifth frame but one mistake on an red in-off in the next frame gave Advani a chance to wrap up the tie and the youngster made no mistakes.

The only time, Advani looked tentative on Friday was when he was just five points away from the crown. He missed a straight red pot but by then he had opened up a huge lead and Sethi had no chance of staging a coming back. The mistake had more to do with the anxiety of bagging the crown in front of his home crowd.

"In fact, I was anxious even before the start of the tournament as I was playing at home. The group tie against New Zealand's Gary Oliver was a wake up call and I am happy it came so early in the tournament," he added.

Advani struggled even in the semifinals against defending champion Rupesh Shah before storming back to win 5-3. "I just hung on there.

It was a battle of attrition," said the cueist who now has a chance to repeat his 2005 feat of winning the National, Asian and both the World crowns in the same year.

Interestingly, Advani prepared for the World Championship by playing the newly introduced 6-ball snooker championship in Karachi.