Mehta cruises, Advani stretched to distance

Pune: Defending champion Aditya Mehta had it easy but four-time champion Pankaj Advani survived a scare against unheralded Rajat Khaneja of Chandigarh before winning in the deciding fifth frame in the league phase of the Manisha National Snooker Championship.

Mumbai-based Mehta`s stint in England on the pro-tour clearly reflected in his play as he whipped Sumesh Turki 3-0 in Group A at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana.

Mehta took the first frame 84-28 and then came up with a break of 90 to take the second 90-0 before a break of 54 helped him to win the third frame 64-14.

Sunil Kumar, Yogesh Sharma and Aneesh Saini are the other three cueists in the group, with top two finishers at the end of the league phase from each of 16 groups making it to the knockout draw of 32 players.

Playing in Group F, ex-champion Advani was in a tricky situation against Khaneja before he wriggled out of it throughsheer experience in the best-of-five frames league match.

The Bangalore cueist, who won the national billiards crown for the sixth time, was 0-2 down as the Chandigarh cueist took the first two frames 75-10 91-10, including a break of 65 in the second.

Advani stormed back with a break of 88 in the third to win the frame 88-8 and bridge the gap to 1-2 before clinching the next 60-25 to even the score.

In the decider, Advani was in his elements once he got a favourable position as he went on to clear the table and take the frame 61-16 for a 3-2 win.

Seasoned Maharashtra cueist Sarang Shroff bit the dust against M Yogesh Kumar of Karnataka after leading 2-0. Shroff bagged the first two frames 87-22 71-32, but Yogesh rallied brilliantly and wrapped up the match by taking the next three 72-26 62-31 76-36.