Pankaj Advani defeats Kolkata’s Sourav Kothari to win national billiards title
PUNE The final of the senior billiards event at the National Billiards and Snooker Championship went down to the wire, as Pankaj Advani emerged victorious over Kolkata’s Sourav Kothari in the clash of two former champions at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Tuesday.
Before the final, both competitors lost just a single frame in the entire tournament. Advani and Kothari were prolific in the semifinals, as both registered blowout 5-0 victories.
Representing the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), both players had a very conservative approach at the beginning of the game. The scores were tied at 2-2 at the end of the fourth frame with both players committing just a couple of unforced errors. Advani stamped his authority on the game in the fifth and sixth frame, unsettling Kothari before the seventh. The former champion kept his nerves in the seventh frame to add another national title to his kitty.
Frame 1 - Kothari’s strong start; 13-150
An early cannon attempt reaped the desired rewards for Kothari as he got into a really comfortable position with all three balls at the top of the table. Kothari notched a superb break of 131 points which handed him the first frame and the psychological edge.
Frame 2 - Advani retaliation; 150-12
A contrasting start to the second frame witnessed Advani attempt a cannon in the opening stage. Advani did not take any chances as he bagged several points playing sublime cannons and in-offs at the top half of the table. The former champion from Pune was caught in a tight spot after bagging 67 points but managed to play an exquisite in-off off Kothari’s cue ball to retain his break. Kothari returned to the baize with a lucky cannon, but missed on the following in-off which gifted Advani a golden opportunity. Advani did not scupper the chance and earned a break of 57 to win the second frame.
Frame 3 - Comeback complete; 151-00
Building on the momentum from the previous frame, the third frame turned out to be a cakewalk for Advani. Exchanging turns only once at the start, Advani did not allow Kothari to get off the mark. Advani successfully executed three drop cannons in the third frame and spent more than 20 minutes at the baize to play a perfect blend of shots which kept the scoreboard ticking in his favour. After failing to record a 100+ break in the previous frame, Advani was extremely careful and did not falter on this occasion as he crossed the 100-point mark and refused to take his foot off the pedal.
Frame 4 - parity restored; 62-150
Advani missed an easy pot on the red as the pendulum swung back in favour of Kothari. A tantalising miss on a cannon saw Kothari’s cue ball miss Advani’s cue ball by millimeters, halting Kothari’s break at 142 points. Dejected and frustrated after the miss, Kothari returned to his seat as Advani had an opportunity to shock his opponent. However, Advani could only register a break of 62 points after he missed an easy pot on the red. Kothari returned to the baize and mopped up the pieces to win the fourth frame and level the tight contest.
Frame 5 - Advani bounces back; 150-45
After attempting another early drop cannon, Kothari managed to get all three balls into the top half of the table. However, he failed to hold the balls in the area and ended up passing the turn to Advani after notching 19 points. Sensing an opportunity to pull clear of Kothari, the 34-year-old took his time and played a few sublime cannons on the follow-through. Advani played his strokes well as he eventually bagged his second 100+ break of the match.
Frame 6 - Advani stamps his authority; 150-48
Advani missed a cannon by a few centimeters. Kothari returned to the baize only to play a blank and hand the cue back to Advani. Advani returned to the baize and finally managed to stay for a considerable period during which he registered a break which was just 6 shy of 100. Kothari earned a few points off two brilliant cannons but it was too little too late for the former champion as he was left in the dust yet again as the Advani reached the 150-point mark and established a 2-game cushion for the first time in the final.
Frame 7 - Advani wins; 150-02
Kothari scored 2 points early on in the game before handing the turn to Advani. After putting 111 points on the scoreboard, Advani missed his target which presented Kothari with the penultimate opportunity to make a comeback.
Shaky and nervy, Kothari fumbled and committed the first foul of the final as he missed the target ball and added two points into Advani’s kitty. 39 points away from glory, Advani did not falter and was precise with his potting and cannons. The 34-year-old retained the top-spot and clinched his 10th National Senior Billiards title.
After the match
“Pune is a lucky place for me. This is where I was born. Coming into the finals, I was not brimming with confidence, so this is a wonderful way to make your mark in the tournament. It is more special because I won it in the city which has given me so many memorable moments. Now I wish to replicate this performance in snooker as well.”
- Pankaj Advani, winner, National Senior Billiards.