Top seed Geet Sethi and teen sensation Pankaj Advani won their league rounds to move into the knock-out phase in the World billiards championship but not before surviving a scare, in Hyderabad on Thursday.
Also doing the country proud with victories were Siddharth Parikh and Ashok Shandilya.
But it was the 18-year-old Advani who pulled off the biggest coup of the tournament so far, beating professional cueist Nalin Patel 127-150, 33-150, 150-42, 150-0, 151-0 amidst thunderous applause from the spectators.
The veteran cueist baffled the young World snooker champion by his canons and brisk potting and although Pankaj reached 127, Patel took the first frame and won the second with ease.
However, in the third frame both the players looked out of sorts and made very simple errors to let go a plenty of scoring opportunities. Pankaj finally got two nice breaks and stopped Patel in his track to win the frame.
Patel hardly got any chance in the next two frames as the youngster from Karnataka put together unfinished breaks of 150 and 151 to emerge victorious and seal a place in the knock-out phase.
On the other table, the story about Sethi's match was no different. Myanmar cueist U Kuaw Oo provided the former world champion his toughest challenge yet and threatened to run away with the game by taking the first and fourth frames and leading Sethi in the decider.
Sethi lost the first frame at 134 as Oo exhibited some thrilling in-offs and fast canons. But the Indian pro paid him in the same coin to take the second frame by an identical margin and stretched his form further to win the third frame with a break of 64.
Tables turned again as Oo put together a convincing break and displayed some top table play to win the fourth frame with Sethi on 58.
The decider was a test of nerves and the players fumbled at crucial junctures. But Oo failed to pot a simple in-off when he was on 135 and Sethi in his tewnties. Subsequent visits by both cueists yielded no favourable result. But Sethi regained his poise and strung together an unfinished break of 42 to settle the issue.
Among other Indian winners Siddharth Parikh trounced Joe Minici of Australia 150-119, 150-133, 100-150, 150-87 while Ashok Shandilya beat Khurram Hussain Agha 150-104, 151-59, 151-19.
Devendra Joshi defeated Mohammed Yousuf of Pakistan in straight frames.
However, Rishab Thakkar lost to second seed Praput Chaithanskun of Thailand.
In the evening session, B Bhaskar brushed aside a meek challenge from Abdul Bari Chowdhury, winning 151-38, 151-15, 150-57, while Paul Bennet and Robby Foldvari scored easy victories.
Geet Sethi, Devendra Joshi, Pankaj Advani, Ashok Shandilya and Alok Kumar are the Indian players who made it to the last 16 stage by virtue of their three straight wins. They have two more league matches to play.
Those assured of pre-quarter final berths are: Sethi from Group A, Praput Chaithanaskum (Thailand) Group B, Devendera Joshi (India) and Robby Folvari (Australia) Group C, David Causier (England) Group D, Pankaj Advani (India) and Thawat Sujarijthurakaran (Thailand) Group E, U Aung Sanb Oo (Mynmar) Group F, Ashok Shandilya (India) and Paul Bennett (England) Group G.
Stebe Mifsud of Australia and Alok Kumar of India already reached the last 16.
Morning session: Lee Lagan (Eng) bt Soh Chye Hian Friddie (Singapore) 150-39, 150-70, 150-8; Alexander Borg (Malta) bt Huang Chol Ho (S Korea) 151-20, 150-78, 150-60; John McIntyre (N Ireland) bt Abdul Bari Chowdhury (Bangladesh) 151-46, 150-21, 151-48; Wayne Carey (New Zealand0 lost to Hasan Manfaluti (Indonesia) 150-85, 69-150, 97-151, 36-151; Roy Lattimer (N Ireland) lost to Loon Hong Moh (Malaysia) 71-151, 78-152, 38-151; Eugene Huges (Rep of Ireland) bt Kim Do Hoon (S Korea) 151-33, 150-22, 151-57; James Morore (Rep of Ireland) bt yeo Tech Shen Glenn (Singapore) 151-16, 151-119, 112-151, 105-151, 151-87; Gary Oliver (New Zealand) bt NNG Samarawierama (Sri Lanka) 151-128, 150-28, 151-89; Jeo Minici (Aus) lost to Siddarth Parikh (Ind) 119-150, 133-150, 150-100, 87-150; Ashok Shandilya (Ind) bt Khurram Hussain Agha (Pak) 150-104, 151-59, 151-19; Geet Sethi (Ind) bt U Kuaw Oo (Myanmar) 134-151, 152-134, 152-81, 58-150, 152-135; Praput Chaithanskun (Thai) bt Rishabh Takkar (Ind) 151-131, 151-121, 151-78; Devender Joshi (Ind) bt Mohammed Yousuf (Pak) 151-5, 152-139, 151-78; Dhruv Sitwala bt Martin Spoormanns (Belgium) 152-90, 151-59, 150-148; Nalin Patel lost to Pankaj Advani (Ind) 151-127, 150-33, 42-150, 0-150, 0-151.
Evening session: Paul Bennett (Eng) bt NNG Samarawierama (Sri Lanka) 150-19, 150-10, 150-25; Alok Kumar (Ind) bt Soh Chye Hian Friddie (Sin) 151-63, 150-64, 150-57; Mathew Bolton (Aus) bt Huang Choi Ho (Kor) 150-28, 151-96, 150-29; B Bhaskar (Ind) bt Abdulbari Chowdhury (Ban) 151-38, 151-15, 150-57; Robby Foldvari (Aus) bt Hasan Manfaluti (Ina) 150-38, 151-116, 125-151, 150-88; David Causier (Eng) bt Loon Hong Moh (Mas) 152-86, 151-37, 152-46; John Hartley (Eng) bt Kim Do Hoon(Kor) 152-71, 152-2, 150-57; Ian Williamson (Eng) bt Yeo Teck Shen Glenn (Sin) 150-39, 151-97, 120-151, 151-74; Khurram Hussain Agha (Pak) bt Duncan Bezzina(Malta) 150-55, 31-150, 132-150, 150-116, 150-144; Stephen Baillie (Sco) lost to K H Sirisoma (Sri) 31-151, 39-151, 66-151; U Kuaw Oo (Myn) bt Peter Francisco (Sa) 103-151, 100-150, 151-72, 150-112, 150-81; Rishab Thakkar (Ind) bt Hekta (Ina) 150-67, 151-76, 151-36, Martin Spoormanns (Bel) bt Tauriq Sasodien (Sa) 151-105, 151-57, 148-151, 150-141; Pankaj Advani (Ind) bt Thawat Sujarlithurakaran(Tha) 150-33, 150-125, 21-151, 152-131.