Pankaj Advani had to make a comeback after almost being the victim of an upset to ultimately win 5-4 against fellow Indian cueist Aditya Mehta and make it to the semi-final of the Asian Snooker Championship. Mehta was leading 4-3 before Advani won two consecutive frames to emerge victorious.
India’s top cueist Pankaj Advani has had a mixed run of form in the run-up to the Asian Snooker Championship being held in Doha, Qatar. Having won the inaugural Asian Snooker Tour title in April, he was ousted from the Asian Championship in a week later in what can be labelled as an underdog victory. On Thursday, he avoided a similar scare by showing fantastic grit to fight back from a weak position to victory.
After a very competitive head to head battle in the initial rounds, the score stood at 3-2 in favour of Mehta who was not giving any respite to the 21-time World Champion. However, Advani responded with a century crossing break in the next frame to win it 113-0, only for his formidable opponent to bounce back with a century of his own and win 8-107.
This placed him in a favourable position with only one more frame needed to progress to the next stage. Himself an Asian champion, Mehta looked all set to pull off an upset. However, the Padma Bhushan winner was not ready to back down. Back-to-back breaks of 30-plus saw Advani level the score at 4-4 with all to play for in the ninth frame.
He showed great tenacity and determination for he has become so renowned as he rallied through a long deciding frame to ultimately back his opponent into a corner and emerge triumphant 72-48.
The result means Advani is the only Indian left competing for the title as his bid for another Asian title will continue when he faces Pakistan’s Asjad Iqbal in the semi-finals.