Advani qualifies for main draw of Indian Open snooker

Pankaj Advani shrugged off a slow start to get the better of Fang Xiongman of China 4-2 in the wild card round and make it to the main draw of the Indian Open snooker championship.

Pankaj Advani playing an exhibition game after the formal inauguration of the Indian Open world ranking snooker tournament in Hyderabad on Monday.   -  Nagara Gopal

Pankaj Advani shrugged off a slow start to get the better of Fang Xiongman of China 4-2 in the wild card round and make it to the main draw of the Indian Open snooker championship at the HICC-Novotel Hotel here on Tuesday. The morning session saw two other Indians — Manan Chandra and Pankaj Chawla — being knocked out on the adjacent tables.

Advani, one of India's biggest hopes, was under tremendous pressure after losing the first two frames to rookie Xiongman who proved to be a much better potter. The Chinese opponent's body language suggested that he was not overawed by the fact that he was up against a 15-time world champion.

It was obvious Pankaj needed some luck and when he was presented with the opportunities, he seized them like a champion to wriggle out of the trough. In the fourth frame (trailing 1-2), when he was trailing 27-53, Advani snookered the opponent to trap him in a ‘foul and miss’ sequence. He went on to win not only that frame to level the frame scores but clinched the next two with far more ease.

“Yes, he is a very good, attacking player but lacks experience. That is what enabled me to dictate terms to him. I was fortunate to be let off the hook,” Advani said after the game.

“Honestly, I had to earn my victory. I was not playing well at all in the first two frames. It's may be because of the tables too. It is a treat to play on these Star tables, no doubt, if you get used to them,” he said. “I was looking for the chances and I got them luckily,” he added.

Pankaj cautioned that those who knew the game would not to expect too much from the Indians in these events. "This is a different ball game altogether," he said.

Defending champ ousted

Late in the evening, Anthony Hamilton of England knocked out defending champion Michael White 4-1 to record the biggest upset of the opening day. “Lack of practice was the big reason for the defeat. This is the only professional sport where you can’t train before the match,” remarked a sombre White later. “Yes, he played little bit better. It is disappointing to lose certainly,” he said.

Results: Pankaj Advani bt Fang Xiongman 49-69, 45-72, 56-48, 76-53, 89 (89)-1, 89-1; Zhao Xintong bt Kamal Chawla 60-47, 26-55, 80-70, 42-71, 76-40, 73-66; Andrew Higginson bt Manan Chandra 84-13, 57-66, 80-6, 88-34, 70-24; Joe Swail bt Jimmy White 81-41, 23-63, 0-96, 73-38, 66-31, 59-49. Anthony Hamilton (Eng) bt Michael White (Wal) 125 (125)-4, 64-42, 29-78 (61), 50-45, 66-59.