World Snooker: Advani through to knockout stage

Bangalore: Pankaj Advani ran into middling to good form as he marked his progress to the knock-out phase of the IBSF World Snooker championship with two century breaks and as many victories here Tuesday.

Advani, the 26-year old Bangalorean and the 2003 champion, posted breaks of 95 and 108 in the third and fourth frames while easing to a 4-0 win over Poland`s Marcin Nitschke in the afternoon session. He ended the day with a fluent 4-1 result against Finland`s Antti Silvo whose only solace was taking a tight second frame after the Indian ace had posted a break of 100.

Silvo had his chances in the fifth frame too when he crafted a break of 64, but a miss on the last red, followed by a beautiful 34 clearance saw Advani pocket the match 4-1.

Equally impressive were Manan Chandra and National Champion Alok Kumar, both scoring straightforward victories to remain on course for berths in the knock-out stage.

It was a good comeback by Chandra who went down 2-4 to Kevin van Hove-Spletinckx earlier in the day while Alok Kumar seemed to have regained some of his touch that had deserted him on Monday when he lost to Lee Walker.

For Advani, who has won four matches with one more in hand, it was a particularly satisfying workout and he was seen at his best during the run of 95 when he had to virtually bring into play his silken touch and near-perfect judgement of the throwback off the cushions.

"While the 108 was relatively given to me after my opponent opened the bunch, I would rate the 95 break far better since I had to play really well to keep it going. A couple of reds in particular were not well placed, but the shots I played to bring them into play were very satisfying

"Like I said, it was important that I got my shots which I did in the latter part of the match. My opponent had a couple of chances early on when I was cautious. I was told that he trained at the Snooker Academy in England and my ears popped up. I had played him during my under-21 days, but he was quite raw then," said Advani.

Meanwhile, Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi, the Pakistan-born Afghan national, posted the tournament`s highest break so far of 141 clearance that comprised of 15 reds, 10 blacks, four pinks, one blue and the colours as he came through 4-0 against Vladimir Bykov of Russia.

Not to be left behind, Iran`s Ehsan Heydari Nezhad ran up a break of 131 while blanking Blkasem Dabob 4-0 for his second win in Group C.

Meanwhile, former double Asian champion Yasin Merchant, who is to retire after the tournament, slid to a 3-4 defeat against Martin O`Donnell in a touch-and-go encounter that could have gone either way before the Englishman crafted a break of 74 in the seventh frame to seal the issue.

It was O`Donnell`s third win that put him in the knock-out stage from Group B where he was joined by Hong Kong`s Fung Kwok Wai who also maintained his unbeaten run in Group F. Later, O`Donnell joined the list of century-makers with a run of 122 while routing Sweden`s Bairaq Al-Urfy 4-0.


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