Advani holds his nerve to win India’s first gold

first_imgPankaj Advani turned in an aggressive performance laced with emotion to fetch India their first gold medal at the Asian Games as he conquered Myanmar’s Nay Thway Oo 3-2 in the English billiards final here on Sunday. On a day when the shooters ensured a silver and a bronze, it was Advani who was the flavour of the day.It’s been a tough year for Advani, having lost in the world billiards semi-finals in Pune and losing in the same stage at the World Professional Billiards Championship in Leeds, UK, recently.As the defending Asian Games champion, the pressure was indeed intense on him. Having conquered the world of baize sport at such a young age, Advani knew Sunday was a big day, where he had two play backto- back matches.He had begun the day by defeating another player from Myanmar’s Kyaw Oo Oo 3-2 in tough conditions. But the final was indeed a big match with the Myanmar team management vocal in their support, which is pretty unusual in a billiards hall.As the final began, Nay Thway looked cool and composed. Short in stature and dressed nattily, the unfancied Myanamar cueist was fast in walking away with first frame at a 100-33. During this period, Advani looked tense and not his usual self.As he came to the billiards table and rubbed the wax on his cue, there was hesitancy while he was potting the ball. It appeared as if Advani was tense. Once into the second frame, the bigwigs of Indian sport had arrived in the hall in anticipation of a gold medal. Advani slowly cranked his game up.advertisementHe had compiled a 46-37 lead and then went on to register a break of 28 for a 74-37 lead. That was the point Nay Thway missed potting a simple red.Advani jumped in on the chance and sealed the frame with an unfinished break of 26 points. The Myanmar cueist was on song in the third frame. His monk-like serenity and the fast game he played was worth watching. With breaks of 56 and 43, he won 101-12.That was the stage Advani took a toilet break. For those not conversant with the billiards format in the Asian Games, it is very different from how the world championships are played (time and point format).Out there, cueists like Advani can pace themselves out in hours and win a match.But in the Asian Games, it’s on a 100-point format, meaning whichever player first gets to 100, he wins the frame. For purists like Advani, this doesn’t come naturally. Yet, when a purist becomes a convert, we got to see what happens with the Indian in full flow on the table as he potted the ball with fluency and feel.In the fourth frame, Advani took a 6-2 lead and then built a good cushion to lead 34-2. Till then, Nay Thway looked as if he would compete hard. All of a sudden, Advani then unleashed a brilliant burst which only champions can, as he scored 67 points to win the frame 101-4.By this time, the Myanmar support staff had become quiet. They knew Advani had bounced back and Nay Thway was fidgety, looking left and right, with his body language being negative.Advani did not ease on the pedal in the decisive frame. He led 64-45 and from there again did not stop till he had sealed the frame 100-45.For a man who had till then been restrained, he signalled victory by pumping his clenched fists and pointing to the stands. A golden moment that Indians will treasure.last_img

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