Leeds: Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani held his nerves to edge past David Causier of England in the semi-final of the World Billiards Championship time format by a mere five points, here yesterday.
Eyeing another grand double (points and time format in the same year) after clinching the 150-up short format title last week, Advani led Causier by a comfortable 400 points margin at one stage only to pip last year's runner-up 1180-1175.
With Advani making it to the final it could have been an all-Bangalore title clash, but Balachandra Bhaskar went down to another Englishman, Robert Hall 978-824. Hall was far too consistent for Bhaskar, who had stunned defending champion Peter Gilchrist in the previous round.
But in the match of the tournament so far, Advani opened the proceedings with a 94 break due to a loss of position while crossing the baulkline. Causier responded with an 83 and from there the high quality last-four match between two world champions saw a wide range of breaks.
It was Advani who ran away with the lead in the first half of the four-hour semi-final with breaks of 304, 103 and 114. The big-scoring Englishman then took charge and fired in breaks of 91, 170 and 188 to take a slender three-point lead with only seconds to go on the clock.
The Indian rushed to the table and added a timely 10 points but missed. With a seven-point deficit, Causier started his fightback with a cannon (2 points) and was on his way to regain the lead before the timer went off.
Advani, on winning the match narrowly, said, "I just cannot believe how close it got! I had no business relinquishing the lead I enjoyed in the first half but that's
the magnitude of David's talent.
He is a remarkable billiards player and a thorough gentleman. He congratulated me and wished me luck for the finals. A true sportsman." On his upcoming match with England's Rob Hall, who makes his first appearance in a World Championship final, Advani said "Rob is in fine form and has taken his game to a whole new level.
From the time I last saw him in August (in Glasgow at the quadrennial World Team Billiards Championship, which Advani had also won), his game has grown leaps and bounds. "He has beaten the highly capable Aussie Matthew Bolton earlier this week and took out our own Bhaskar, who was in tremendous form. This will not be an easy match but as always I remain positive."
Advani, who has already pocketed two 'grand doubles' will record another bit of history in his illustrious career should the Indian prevail in the five-hour final later today.