Three Indians in quarters of World Pro Billiards C’ship

Leeds: Three Indians including reigning world champion Pankaj Advani moved into the quarterfinals of the World Professional Billiards championship following clinical victories over their respective opponents on the second day of the event here.

The 25-year-old Bangalorean Advani notched up his third straight victory in Group A as he brushed aside the challenge of compatriot Devendra Joshi 818-469 to advance to the last-eight stage at the Northern Snooker Centre.

The national snooker champion Advani sailed smoothly against Joshi with the help of breaks of 134, 209 and 101 respectively.

Advani, who had last year created history by becoming the second Indian, after Geet Sethi, to win the elusive World Pro title, will face Kolkata’s Sourav Kothari in the final group battle to decide the pool winner from Group A.

However, the match between the two green baize experts, will not have any significant bearing to the group standings as Kothari, son of national billiards coach Manoj Kothari, has also sealed his place in the quarterfinal stage following his facile 718-262 win against England’s Martin Goodwill in 30 vists to the table.

In his first match of the opening session, Kothari made short work of compatriot Sushrut Pandia, outclassing him 1152-189 with the help of five century breaks which also included tournament’s highest 1100.

Advani and Kothari have both won three matches each and final encounter between them will decide the number 1 and 2 positions in Group A. Two top players from each group will advance to the knockout stage starting on Saturday.

Five-time winner Geet Sethi, making his 19th appearance at the event, scored an emphatic 1199-223 win over England’s Matthew Sutton before inching ahead compatriot Rupesh Shah 461-441 confirm his berth for knockouts.

With an all-win record, Sethi topped his Group B and joined the likes of Advani and Kothari in the last-eight stage.

In the match between Rupesh and Geet, the former, on his first visit, crafted a break of 230 and put himself in a strong position to challenge the Ahmedabad veteran. The match was looking to be in favour of Rupesh when just eight minutes left in the clock and Sethi down by 108 points.

The maestro put the last gear just at an appropriate time to score 128 unfinished to seal the match in his favour by mere 20 points.

In the last session against Sutton, Sethi constructed three century breaks including tournament’s second highest 517 to breeze past his English opponent in just 15 visits to the table.

In the other matches involving Indians, Joshi lost narrowly 493-500 against Goodwill despite constructing a century break of 207 in Group A.

In Group B, Siddharth Parikh waged a grim battle against Sutton before going down 351-385 in 22 visits to the table. However, Parikh scored a consolation win over England’s Bem French 964-201 in the last session, scoring two century breaks of 105 and 121.

In Group C, Dhruv Sitwala defeated England’s David 593-498 while Ashok Shandilya lost 386-560 to another Englishman Mark Hirst in 20 visits to the table.

In Group D, yesterday’s surprise package Robert Marshall, who had defeated nine-time winner and title favourite England’s Mike Russell, came out with another clinical performance defeating Gary Rogers by a victory margin of 582 points and continue in the race to get the knockout berth.

Singapore’s Peter Gilchrist, another title favourite had a mixed outing losing his first match against Russell 393-719 before winning 674-422 against Robert Marshall in 34 visits to stay in the hunt for knock-out qualifiers.