Mumbai: Arun Agrawal shocked former national champion Alok Kumar in a thriller to storm into the semifinals, while title favourite Pankaj Advani fired a superb break of 530 in the CCI Classic Billiards and Snooker Tournament here today.
While Agrawal was the toast of the day, eight-time world champion Advani fired the huge break against world bronze medallist Devendra Joshi in another quarter-final tie to reach the semis on an exciting day of big breaks.
Title contender Advani's effort eclipsed national champion Sourav Kothari's equally brilliant 494 earlier in the tournament, as he sealed a last four clash with former world champion Rupesh Shah, while Agrawal will take on twice world runner-up Dhruv Sitwala in the other semi-final.
Apart from Advani, who also added a 247 break in the pre-quarter-finals, Shah sparkled with a break of 186 en route to a win over world bronze medallist Ashok Shandilya and Sitwala, who hit a 249 in the last 16, fired a 187 while upsetting Kothari in the quarter-finals.
Ten-time Maharashtra champion Agrawal got off to a dream start as he surged to a significant lead of 180 points at the end of the first hour of the two-and-a-half hour quarter-final against Kumar. But Kumar, the 2011 Asian champion, initiated a fine recovery to lead 459-427 with crucial breaks of 86 and 68 with about 40 minutes remaining.
Agrawal then fought back and fired a timely 138 break that helped him surge to a crucial 100-point advantage with 22 minutes to go. He added another decisive break of 47 and with just six minutes remaining, Kumar had little time for a reversal of fortunes.
"I have been consistent from the beginning of the tournament and improved with every game. I dared to go for my shots while, I feel, Alok played under pressure and made quite a few mistakes," explained Agrawal. "When Alok took that lead with two breaks, everything suddenly began going right for him. But I remained focused and managed to hold on. The breaks in the end proved decisive," he added.
Earlier, in the pre-quarter-finals, Agrawal ousted former Railways champion Siddharth Parikh in another tight contest. It was neck to neck battle until the halfway mark of the two-hour duel until Agrawal surged to a lead of 190 points and with just 15 minutes to go Parikh was left stranded.
Results: Quarter-finals: Rupesh Shah (PSPB) bt Ashok Shandilya (Rlys) 607(186)-288; Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) bt Sourav Kothari (PSPB) 619(187)-376; Arun Agrawal (Mah) bt Alok Kumar (PSPB) 668(86,138)-539; Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Devendra Joshi (PSPB) 1046(92,530)-368(112). Pre-Quarter-finals: Alok Kumar bt K. Venkatesham (Rlys) 594(104)-405; Ashok Shandilya bt D Rajkumar (Ktk) 505(100)-387; Pankaj Advani bt IH Manudev (Ktk) 988(120-121,247,113)-461; Arun Agrawal bt Siddharth Parikh (Rlys) 587-438; Devendra Joshi bt Malkeet Singh (Rlys) 778-316; Rupesh Shah bt Aditya Agrawal (Rlys) 712(99,100,98,112)-308; Sourav Kothari (PSPB) bt Jaiveer Dhingra (PSPB) 871(151,164,105,168)-235; Dhruv Sitwala bt Nalin Patel (Mah) 540(249)-326.
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