Pankaj Advani loses, Indian challenge ends at World snooker

Bangalore: The Indian challenge, spearheaded by Pankaj Advani and Kamal Chawla, was blown away as former professional Lee Walker, the 35-year-old from Wales, and Iranian teenager Hoosein Vafaei Ayouri entered the final of the IBSF World snooker championship here Friday.

Advani, the 26-year-old Bangalorean, seemed uncharacteristically distracted and made a mess of the openings to lose to Walker 1-7, while Chawla was swept away by the attacking Ayouri who won in a canter at 7-2, in the semi-finals.

While Advani was rather disappointing especially after winning the first frame as he allowed the 35-year old Walker back into the match, Chawla, the 32-year old from Bhopal, appeared clueless against the hugely talented 17-year old Ayouri who feels he is good enough to turn professional and not many disagree with him.

Advani was up against a player who spent 12 years on the professional circuit attaining a best ranking of 42 and Walker showed why he was so highly rated. Displaying enviable composure under pressure, Walker turned back sizeable deficits in virtually every frame in the first session that he took 5-1 and then was unstoppable on resumption.

Walker`s two century breaks, 115 in the fourth and 100 in the seventh underlined the Welshman`s methodical break-building and approach that kept Advani off the table for long periods and the Bangalorean eventually became "cold".

"I knew that Pankaj will enjoy big support in his home town. I didn`t start well, but I was determined to fight my way out of trouble, especially after I lost the first frame. And until the last ball was potted, I didn`t take my victory for granted," said Walker, playing in his first IBSF World championship.

Advani, while admitting that he was rather scratchy through the match, said: "I started off well, but after that wasted a few good chances. I should have dictated terms in the first three frames, but gave my opponent too many openings. At this level, you rarely get a second chance.

"I thought he played exceptionally well and was very solid. He may be a slow player, but very effective. I was off the table for long periods and obviously, I went cold."

"Looking back, I feel that the match was won and lost in the first three frames, because once he went in the lead, it became very difficult to make ground."

On the next table, Ayouri gave a fine exhibition of attacking snooker as he blitzed his way past Chawla who was more or less a spectator and barely got a toe into the match as the Iranian opened up a 5-0 lead before the Indian managed to win a couple of frames.

"I like to play attacking snooker. I had played against Chawla in a recent tournament in Qatar and so knew his game. Coming into this tournament, I was determined to win the title so that I can get a pro ticket and Saturday, I will do my best to realize my dream," said Ayouri who posted five half-centuries with a best of 91.

Earlier, in the quarter-finals, Advani overcame Belgium`s Peter Bullen 6-2 while Chawla came through yet another tight match, but seemed unhappy with his cueing.

On the adjacent tables, Walker put out fancied Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the precocious and in-form Thai, 6-2, and Ayouri outclassed Brendan O`Donnoghue of Ireland 6-3.

Advani had an up-and-down match as he started off well by crafting a break of 62 to pocket the first frame, but his performance tapered off thereafter. Bullen responded strongly with a 123 clearance followed by a break of 64 for a 2-1 lead and the pressure was on Advani.

As in the past, Advani bounced back with a run of 62 in the fourth followed by a 48 in the fifth to regain the initiative. The Bangalorean took the next two frames with breaks of 63 and 55 for a 5-2 lead.

Then came the decisive moment when in the eighth, Advani snookered Bullen behind the green and picked up 27 points as the Belgian failed to get out of the bind in six attempts. Fortified by the free points, Advani went on to clinch the frame for the match.

Chawla, who had beaten National champion Alok Kumar 5-4 in a four-hour marathon on Thursday night, survived yet another punishing encounter that not only underlined his abundant talent but also the inconsistency that has denied him more success.

The results:

Semi-finals (Best-of-13 frames): Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (Iran) bt Kamal Chawla (India) 7-2: (44) 67-53; 65-43; Lee Walker (Wales) bt Pankaj Advani (India) 7-1: (56) 68-82 (32 clearance); 61-41; (32, 36) 69-39 (39); (115) 115-00; (85cl) 85-42 (35); 67-28; (100) 108-33; (73) 73-52 (52).

Quarter-finals (Best-of-11): Advani bt Peter Bullen (Belgium) 6-2: (62) 71-07; 00-123 (123cl); 34-75 (64); (62) 92-21; (47) 67-60; (63) 70-09; (55) 69-16; 80-45. Walker bt Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Thailand) 6-2: 11-95 (68); 72-64 (64); (67) 67-25; (54) 60-72 (46); (38) 68-04; (70cl) 70-60 (60); (59cl) 59-55 (55); 62-28. Ayouri bt Brendan O`Donnoghue (Ireland) 6-3: (41, 30cl) 80-62 (54); (118) 118-00; 63-73 (66); (48, 33) 86-18; 33-73 (67); 18-83 (46cl); (58) 85-01; 71-52, (38, 38) 74-00. Chawla bt Kevin van Hove (Belgium) 6-5: 03-87 (75); (56, 50) 106-07; (58cl) 93-15; (60) 76-29; 06-112 (48, 55cl); 27-86; 46-65 (36); 74-32; (31) 72-35; 27-78 (32); 77-36.


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