Bangalore: Indian ace Yasin Merchant managed to scrape through to the knockout stage of the IBSF World Snooker Championship on Wednesday despite a loss to Syria`s Omar Alkojah, thanks to his fellow group opponents who fared worse than him.
Sweden`s Bairaq Al-Urfy`s one win placed him in fourth place while Libya`s Khaled Elbakosh`s winless show placed him in fifth in Group B.
Merchant began his match, winning the first frame 63-49, but lost the next three frames 35-70, 57-70 and 36-76.
Merchant, however, recovered in the fifth and sixth frames, winning with huge margins of 97-9 and 97-29. He failed to maintain the tempo, however, and conceded the deciding frame 14-62.
Merchant must have heaved a sigh of relief to enter the knockout stage, but the competition ahead is tough as he is scheduled to face Alkojah once again.
Alkojah won three out of four matches in his Group B encounters. He not only routed Al-Urfy and Elbakosh, but also Merchant.
Another top Indian cueist, Pankaj Advani, topped the Group D table by registering his fifth consecutive win in the league stage. He vanquished Switzerland`s Pascal Camenzind 103-0, 29-72, 102-0, 79-20, 79-8, crafting his second century break (103) of the tournament.
In a Group P tie, another Indian cueist Kamal Chawla beat Switzerland`s Stefan Schneider 4-1 to move into the knockout stage. He won 76-22, 56-18, 43-69, 135-12, 76-35.
India`s Alok Kumar is virtually through to the next stage even after losing to Scotland`s Mark Boyle 1-4 in Group E tie. He lost 82-14, 22-100, 33-69, 7-47, 41-57.
Former champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh of Thailand also outplayed another Indian star Manan Chandra 4-1. He won 54-64, 67-33, 50-41, 82-29, 133-1, making a break of 125 in the last frame. Un-Nooh is through to the knockout stage after winning all four of his matches so far.
Earlier in the day, India`s Brijesh Damani, along with Australian legend Steve Mifsud and Saleh Mohammad of Afghanistan, stormed into the knockout stage.
Damani, a late entrant into the championship, did not face any problems in his 4-0 dismantling of New Zealand`s Garry Gillard in a Group L tie.
Damani outplayed the Kiwi cueist, who had lost all his previous three matches, 55-11, 104-16, 85-14, 65-37 to advance to the knockout stage.
In another Group K round robin tie, Mifsud stamped his class when he crushed Ukrainian rival Sergiy Isyenko 4-0 to storm into the knockout stage.
Mifsud was awarded the initial frame 1-0 as Isyenko arrived late for the match. He won the following three frames 80-1, 62-17 and 67-60.
Another cueist who booked his berth in the knockout stage was Saleh Mohammad who beat India`s I H Manudev 4-2 in an enthralling Group G encounter. He won 73-0, 33-65, 66-18, 83-4, 0-87 and 69-58.
Current national junior champion Lalrina Renthlei lost to Australia`s Joe Minici 2-4. He lost 59-61, 105-8, 64-24, 95-8, 53-65, 115-16.
Frenchman Gregory Kopec was awarded a walkover after his opponent Bernard Bernhardsson of Iceland failed to appear for the match.
Pakistan`s Muhammad Asif registered a century break while playing against Michael Wild (England). In the last frame, he made 111 to outplay the Englishman 4-2 with scorecard reading 91-28, 26-70, 0-95, 65-45, 71-9, 118-9.