Snooker: Pankaj Advani, the man with the Midas Touch
Pankaj Advani adds another World title to his kitty. Last week, Advani, India’s King Midas, strolled through the World 6-red championship that concluded at the Sharm-Al-Sheik tourist resort in Egypt
Pankaj Advani adds another World title to his kitty. Last week, Advani, India’s King Midas, strolled through the World 6-red championship that concluded at the Sharm-Al-Sheik tourist resort in Egypt.
Pankaj Advani with his IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship trophy. Pic/cuesportsindia.com
Advani, probably took a longer lay off than desired from winning titles when he forayed into the cut throat world of professional snooker for two long years. Mind you, he did show glimpses of brilliance there, and had a few top professionals running for cover, but was not able to sustain the effort. He also suffered in comparison to Aditya Mehta, who has been on the pro scene a bit longer, and who managed to bring in India’s best performance ever by reaching the final of a major ranking event.
Having tested the waters at the pro level, and not having attained the kind of success that he is used to, Advani decided to call it quits as a professional and returned to the more familiar, and less threatening amateur territory. The very first tournament that he stepped into (IBSF World 6-red championship), he struck gold. His sojourn at this World event was almost a walk in the park, with just one stumbling block in the form of Rodney Goggins, from Ireland, who gave him some sort of work-out, probably preparing Advani for sterner tests ahead. The 5-4 scoreline against Goggins, must have done wonders to his confidence, as he then moved into acceleration mode, and decimated his semi-final and final opponents with the ease of a skilled surgeon. His 6-1 score in the final against Kacper Filipiak of Poland was probably his easiest match of the entire event.
A 30-odd strong Indian contingent including ladies had landed at Sharm-Al Sheik, for the World team event (gentlemen and ladies), The Masters team event, and the World 6-red championship. Teaming up with Brijesh Damani in the team event, there was not too much success in store for Advani as was the case with the other four teams that India had fielded for this championship. With the formalities of the team event taken care of (a last 16 exit), Advani then shifted his focus to the individual 6-red event, and blitzed his way through to yet another world title.
There is something special about this young man, who seems to hit pay dirt whenever he opts out of something in favour of another event. His decision appears to be spot on, as he invariably ends up winning the title in the event that he has chosen. On earlier occasions, in one of the Asian Games, he opted out of snooker to focus on billiards, and he had a podium finish with the gold medal dangling from his neck. He opted out of a major snooker ranking event whilst playing the professional circuit, in favour of the World billiards event, and lo and behold, he was the World billiards champion. This year too, he walks out of the professional circuit for reasons best known to him, and as if to compensate, he throws in a World title for India. Destiny’s child indeed! But where does that leave the other Indians? Save Mehta, who has the measure of Advani in many of their duels, all other Indian snooker players are just playing catch up, and with no offence to anyone, they are failing miserably. With Mehta insistent on finding his fortune on the Professional tour, it is sadly becoming a one-horse race, where Advani just has to turn up, and subsequently walk home with the winner’s purse. Such is the level of submission by the other Indian players, that Advani wins an entire event purely on the strength of the reputation which precedes him. It augurs really well for Advani, who is gaining in strength, but reflects mighty poorly on the other Indian cueists, who are extending the gap between themselves and Advani, with every title that he claims.
The author is a former Asian snooker champion