India’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani on Thursday defended his Asian Snooker Championship title defeating Amir Sarkhosh of Iran here. The Indian great was competing in his first assignment in almost two years due to COVID-19. Advani had won the title in 2019 before the 2020 edition got scrapped due to the pandemic. His tally of Asian titles across both snooker and billiards now stands at 11, apart from the two Asian Games golds of 2006 and 2010.
“I’m glad to defend this title and pick up from where I left off before the onset of the pandemic. The gap only increased the drive and hunger to compete and do well on return,” said Advani.
In the best-of-eleven final, Advani was up against former winner and a seasoned campaigner Amir who was in formidable form. It was the Indian though who dictated most of the final in his 6-3 victory. Advani drew first blood by winning the first frame with a 55 break. After that a 50 break in the second and some fine potting in the third made the ultimate winner enjoy a 3-0 lead before the Iranian pulled one back.
At 3-1, the Indian employed his billiards knowledge to give his opponent limited scoring opportunity and capitalised on every opening he got to go 4-1 up. The next two frames were shared by the finalists with a remarkable display of quality potting from both players. However, just when the Indian was one frame away from getting his hands on the coveted trophy, Amir found his touch and bridged the gap to 5-3.
A fine break of 43 gave Amir the lead in the ninth frame but the crowd got to witness a perfect climax from the 23-time world champion as he pieced together an exquisite championship-winning clearance break of 63 to end the match and a two-year wait for an international title. Advani will stay back to compete in the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup starting Friday.
Final: Pankaj Advani (India) defeated Amir Sarkhosh (Iran) 6-3
Frame Scores: 72(55)-42, 72(50)-0, 70-49, 41-66, 70-17, 30-68, 34-74, 50-12, 64(63)-44.