Aditya Mehta set up a mouth-watering quarter-final against compatriot Pankaj Advani after ending the challenge of double World champion Mark Williams in the Indian Open snooker tournament in Delhi on Thursday.
Mehta became only the second Indian cueist, after Advani, to reach the quarter-final of a world ranking snooker event with a 4-2 victory over the world No 18.
Advani had put India on to the global snooker map by storming into the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open earlier this year.
The match between Advani and Mehta, later on Thursday evening, holds a lot of significance as it will be the first time that two Indian cueists will be up against each other on the professional tour. Whoever wins will progress to the semi-finals of the ranking event, another first for India.
In the morning session, Advani scored a hard-fought 4-3 victory over World No 12 Stuart Bingham.
Forced to play a 10 am match after a long and intense battle on Wednesday night, India's highest-ranked snooker professional won the best-of-seven pre-quarter-final 4-3.
Having had to work hard till 11 last night before getting the better of world No 11 Mark Allen, Advani went on to say, "As a professional, if you are asked to wake up and play at four in the morning, you have to do it!".
While India's other cueist Aditya Mehta had almost a day to recover, Advani, an eight-time World champion, was back on the table in less than 12 hours against the world No 8 Essex cueist, one of the toughest in the fray.
He started with a break of 53 and captured the first frame convincingly.
Bingham, the dangerous customer that he is, responded with a fluent 110 break and levelled the scores.
The Indian pulled back the next two frames with breaks of 67 and 53, and was only one frame away from rewriting snooker history. But that wasn't meant to happen in a hurry.
Bingham rose to the occasion and enforced the decider with breaks of 72 and 119.
In the decider, with momentum in Bingham's favour, but he broke down after a 30 break. Advani capitalised on the mistake, knowing well that this was possibly his only chance to seize victory.
The World champion enthralled fans with a courageous and well-crafted 86 to stamp his authority and become the first Indian to enter the quarter-finals of a ranking event not once but twice.
In the match between Mehta and Williams, the 28-year-old Mumbai cueist, ranked 72nd, held his nerve, especially in the tense sixth frame. Williams never quite looked the player who had won the World title in 2000 and 2003.
After losing the first frame 34-65, Mehta put on a dominating show to win the second and third on breaks of 54 and 66 respectively.
A loose safety shot by Mehta in the tight fourth allowed the 38-year old Williams to level at 2-2.
Mehta won another close frame for a 3-2 advantage and looked set to take the sixth when he came on nicely for the black after potting the 14th red.
However, the black hung on the mouth of the top left pocket after hitting the jaw. Williams, trailing 32-58, took the last red and cleared up to blue to narrow the deficit to 17 points.
Both players made a few blank visits, playing safe. Eventually, Mehta sank the blue and Williams knocked the black in with the pink to lose the match.
Meanwhile, Stuart McGill, the 22-year old from Scotland, ranked 49th, knocked out world No 19 Joe Perry of England 4-2, finishing the match with a break of 138 in the last frame, while world No 4 Ding Junhui eliminated four-time World champion John Higgins 4-2.
World No 1 Australian Neil Robertson fought off China's Liang Wenbo 4-2 with a century break in the sixth frame.
Pankaj Advani (70) bt Stuart Bingham (8) 4-3 [99(53)-26, 1-117(117), 80(67)-15, 69(53)-16, 11-72(72), 8-119(119), 86(86)-30]
Aditya Mehta bt Mark Williams 4–2 [34-65, 79(54)-21, 85(66)-0, 45-74, 63-49, 70-41].
Image: Pankaj Advani