New Delhi, Dec 22:India’s ace cueist PankajAdvani successfully defended his National Billiards title in Bhopal, part of a sweet story of how two friends played against each other in the title contest.
Advani defeated his ‘close friend’ DhruvSitwala 5-2 in a high-quality best-of-nine-frames final. After losing the first frame, Advani responded with breaks of 56 & 46 to restore parity.
Sitwala displayed excellent in-offs, pots and cannons again to pocket the third frame with a sizeable break of 84. He was on course to even wrest the fourth after a wonderful effort of 101. But a costly lapse gave a chance to Pankaj, who chalked up a break of 127 to draw level once again.
Thereafter, Pankaj struck a purple patch, cajoling and nursing the balls at the top of the table to craft two unfinished breaks of 150 in the fifth and sixth frames to take a 4-2 lead. Despite a break of 134, Sitwala could not hold Advani back as the latter compiled an unfinished break of 148 to take the title.
After the match, Advani admitted that it was not easy to play against one’s ‘best friend’ in the final of a major event. “It is very difficult facing your buddy in a big final. Dhruv is an excellent player and an even better human being.
We keep it real even before facing off in a match! Our results have never come in the way of our close friendship,” Pankaj told indianexpress.com after claiming his 35th title. “I remember losing to Dhruv in the Asian Billiards Championship final in 2015.
That was his first big win and I’m sure he’ll have a lot more success on the world stage,” he added.