Pankaj Advani (PSPB) raced to his fifth title in the senior National billiards championship with a 5-1 drubbing of Balachandra Bhaskar of Karnataka who was playing in his maiden final, in Chennai on Saturday.
After a sluggish start when he conceded the first frame, the 26-year-old Advani took a firm grip on the match with some high quality billiards that left his fellow-Bangalorean Bhaskar rooted to his chair for much of the contest.
The 39-year old Bhaskar, for long on the fringes of the big league, had done extremely well to reach the final, scalping the more fancied Dhruv Sitwala in the semi-finals and veteran Devendra Joshi in the quarter-finals.
But pitted against the seven-time world champion Advani, who was virtually unstoppable, Bhaskar was forced to play second fiddle and paid dearly every time he missed a shot.
Advani, who also has won five Asian titles besides two gold medals in consecutive Asian Games, had taken out nine times world champion Geet Sethi in the semi-finals and continued his impressive run against Bhaskar.
Bhaskar's best moments were in the first frame that he took on a run of 119 unfinished as Advani bounced back to take the tight second. Thereafter, Advani switched gears to post unfinished breaks of 147, 107, 150 and 147 in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth frames and wrapped up the match in style.
The century breaks in the fifth and sixth frames saw Advani at his brilliant best as he put forth a fascinating exhibition of top-of-the-table game, often playing the Postman's Knock with enviable control. There was little that Bhaskar could do as he was kept off the table.
Earlier, Advani and Bhaskar scored fluent 4-0 and 4-1 victories against Geet Sethi and Sitwala, respectively, in the semi-finals.
The Advani vs Sethi clash failed to give out any fireworks. Advani was at his merciless best and made Sethi pay for every mistake to run out a comfortable winner.
Sethi, who turned 50 earlier this year, admitted that his own "lack lustre" performance had much to do with the rather tepid contest. "Nothing went right for me and Pankaj, as usual, played well," he said.
Advani had breaks of 111 and 122 besides three half-centuries while Sethi's best was a 92 in the third frame.
In the other semi-final, Bhaskar wore down Sitwala, much like he had done late last night against veteran Devendra Joshi whom he beat in the quarter-finals.
Bhaskar, after taking the first three frames, touched top form when it mattered most with an unfinished 119 in the fifth after Sitwala fought back to take the fourth on a run of 127 unfinished.
Final (best-of-9, 150 up): Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Balachandra Bhaskar (Kar) 5-1: 91-153; 151-0; 150-67; 150-92; 150-0; 151-2; 151-0. For 3-4 positions :Geet Sethi (Guj) bt Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) 2-1: 151-50, 10-150, 151-07.
Semi-finals (best of 7, 150-up): Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Geet Sethi (Guj) 4-0: 150-114, 150-12, 151-105, 150-104; Balachandra Bhaskar (Kar) bt Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) 4-1: 152-117, 151-130, 151-79, 36-151, 151-60.