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National champion Pankaj Advani of India blanked former World champion C Praput of Thailand 5-0 to claim the Idea Cellular-ONGC-BPCL-sponsored fourth Asian Billiards Championship, at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana, in Pune on Saturday.
In a contest that featured two quality players, the championship round surprisingly was an anti-climax after a week of thrilling encounters, with the Thai proving no match for the Indian ace.
The 19-year-old Advani brought into the final the fine form he enjoyed right through a highly rewarding season to uncork significant breaks in each of the five frames for a systematic demolition of Praput.
Aware of Praput's reputation as a former world champion, Advani was careful not to be complacent. He got off to a dream start though with an unfinished break of 90 that straightaway got him into a rhythm.
The win in the opening frame gave Advani the confidence he required to overcome the initial blues, while it served to put Praput under pressure from the word go. Strangely, Praput never recovered from there as he struggled to get back into the match.
It was no looking back for Advani, who rifled in unfinished breaks of 63, 81, 94 and 77 in each frame respectively, to shut out Praput's challenge and ensure the title remains in India.
"In a big game like an Asian Championship final, you always look for a good start and that's exactly what I got. Once I got that first big break I overcame all inhibitions," explained a delighted Advani.
"We have never won an Asian title and so the pressure was on both of us. Praput played well in the earlier rounds with commendable wins over Geet Sethi and Ashok Shandilya. He is a great competitor and is capable of turning tables. But fortunately the balls rolled in my favour again and he played well below par. Had he played a hundred per cent it would have been a tougher match," added Advani.
"The loss of the opening game made me nervous and I was under a lot of pressure from the start. I did not play well while Pankaj seemed more relaxed, and that gave him the edge," explained a disappointed Praput.
Advani earned Rs. 125,000 (US$2,500), while Praput received Rs. 60,000 (US$1300).
India's Ashok Shandilya and Kyaw Oo of Myanmar were declared joint-third and received the bronze.
Scores: FINAL (Best-of-seven games / breaks in bracket): Pankaj Advani (India) bt C. Praput (Thailand) 100 [90unf), 100(63 unf)-32, 100(81 unf)-0, 100(94 unf)-0, 101(77 unf)-51.
Third place: Ashok Shandilya (India) and Kyaw Oo (Myanmar).
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