India’s leading cueist Pankaj Advani teamed up with Laxman Rawat to demolish Pakistan in the final of the Asian Team Snooker Championship here today. Advani drew first blood by putting on a sterling performance against Mohammad Bilal. After the Pakistani scored the first solitary point and benefited from a foul from Advani, the Indian bounced back to piece together a brilliant break of 83 to seal the first tie of the best-of-five final. India’s fate was going to be determined by Advani’s partner Rawat’s form and he did not disappoint.
He rose to the occasion to head towards what was to be his first major international title with a clinical 73 break to win the frame without allowing his opponent, Babar Masih to score a single point. To complete a whitewash the Indian pair needed to maintain their superlative performance in the doubles tie. However, the Pakistani duo responded well to the pressure of being 0-2 down, knowing they needed to win this crucial tie to stay alive in the final. But it was Rawat who saved the day for India by scoring a 50 break just when they had a deficit of a similar margin.
But a critical miss on the pink before starting with the colours, brought Masih back to the table, gifting him a regulation clearance of yellow to black. Given the kind of pressure that was resting on his shoulders to rescue Pakistan from the brink of defeat, he fumbled on the green and gave Advani an unintended snook. But the Indian ace was in no mood of leaving the table without getting the job done. He played a classy swerve and managed to just sink the green in the pocket and saw himself in a spot of bother with the brown. A heroic attempt by Advani got him the pot and India were now just the blue and pink away from lifting the Asian title. He held his nerve and completed the task of clearing the frame and winning the final 3-0.
India A comprised Malkeet Singh with Ashok Shandilya as coach. Advani remained the only player to not lose a single individual match in the team event. This title brings up Advani’s second Asian title this season and 8th overall (6 Billiards, 1 6-red and 1 Team Snooker) while it is a first for Rawat and Singh.