Billiards: Pankaj Advani to meet Geet Sethi in semi-final (Lead)

July 30th, 2011 - 1:07 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, July 29 (IANS) Title favourite and seven times World Champion Pankaj Advani (PSPB) ended the giant-killing act of K.Venkatesham (Railways) with a polished 4-0 victory on Friday to set-up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Geet Sethi (Gujarat) in the senior National Billiards Championship.

Sethi, winner of nine World titles, put in a consistent performance with four half-century breaks to gun down his hometown friend Rupesh Shah 4-0 in a match that was closer than the final score-line.

The other semi-final will be between Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) who eliminated Ashok Shandilya (Railways) 4-1 and the winner of the Devendra Joshi (PSPB) vs Balachandra Bhaskar (Karnataka) match that was still in progress till 11.30 p.m..

Earlier in the day, Venkatesham, the Hyderabad-based Railways player, knocked out defending champion Alok Kumar of PSPB 3-2, but was outclassed in the next round when he ran into Advani.

Venkatesham, who was marked for big deeds when he first came on the national scene some 20 years ago, but never quite fulfilled the early promise, posted breaks of 54, 56 and 92 in the first, third and fifth, while Alok’s best efforts were an 52 in the second and an 84 in the fourth.

Advani, the 26-year old from Bangalore, was in imperious form on the day as he posted three centuries (151, 139, 142) against Venkatesham in the first three frames before wrapping up the match 4-0. In the previous round, Advani had two century breaks while brushing aside veteran Shyam Jagtiani (Railways).

Sitwala, the 38-year old from Mumbai and among the top four in the country, showed a lot of character in overcoming veteran Shandilya after losing the opening frame. The southpaw posted breaks of 143, 141, 95 and 51 to take the next four.

In the previous round, Sitwala crafted the tournament’s highest break of 151 unfinished to see off Siddharth Parkeh 3-2.

Shandilya was fortunate to have won the previous match against young Sourav Kothari 3-2 after squandering a 2-0 lead marked by a break of 144 unfinished in the second.

However, the 25-year old Kothari, son of former World champion Manoj who incidentally beat Shandilya to win the title in 1990, came back strongly to take the third and then level at 2-2 on a 150 unfinished break.

Going into the decider, Shandilya, the 42-year old 2002 World champion, opened with a 116 break, but watched nervously as Kothari replied with a run of 100 that ended on a missed red in-off. Shandilya needed no second invitation as he polished off the game for a 3-2 result.

The results:

Quarter-finals (Best-of-7, 150-up): Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt K Venkatesham (Rlys) 4-0: 151 (138unf)-02; 150 (139unf)-95, 153 (142unf)-121 (64), 150 (66unf)-57; Geet Sethi (Guj) bt Rupesh Shah (Guj) 4-0: 152 (73)-133 (86); 151 (59, 64unf)-98 (59), 150 (66, 59unf)-33, 151 (80)-131 (91); Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) bt Ashok Shandilya (Rlys) 4-1 :42-150, 151 (143)-50, 151 (51)-50, 150 (141)-02, 150 (95)-47.

Pre-quarter-finals (best-of-five, 150-up): Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Shyam Jagtinai (Rlys) 3-0; Geet Sethi (Guj) bt Arun Agarwal (Mah) 3-0; Rupesh Shah (Guj) bt Shakeel Ahmed (WB) 3-0; Devendra Joshi (PSPB) bt Prem Prakash (TN) 3-0; K Venkatesham (Rlys) bt Alok Kumar (PSPB) 3-2; Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) bt Siddharth Parkeh (Rlys) 3-2; Balachandra Bhaskar (Kar) bt Shankar Rao (AP) 3-0; Ashok Shandilya (Rlys) bt Sourav Kothari (PSPB) 3-2.

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