Three-time IBSF World billiards champion Geet Sethi and Lee Lagan of England will clash in the final of the World Billiards championship in Hyderabad on Sunday.
In Saturday's semi-finals, Sethi brushed aside a spirited challenge from Englishman Paul Bennett in the second semi-final after Lagan had got the better of Ashok Shandilya in the other semi-final.
Sethi won 151-75, 152-40, 150-13, 142-154, 47-151, 150-0, 150-75, while Lagan beat Shandilya in a match that went to the distance, winning 150, 151-59, 46-153, 151-90, 151-2, 86-151, 15-151, 150-10, 0-152.
Sethi should have wrapped up the match in quick time. He was three frames but lasped in concentration and allowed the Englishman to claw back.
A break of 68 gave the Indian ace the first frame and then he proceded to compile breaks of 148 and 91 to take the second and third frames respectively and sit pretty. But a hasty cannon by Sethi saw Bennett take the fourth frame narrowly at 154-142.
The loss of the frame upset the Indian's concentration. Bennett capitalised on his erratic display to take the fifth frame rather easily after a break of 79.
But Sethi roared back with an unfinished break of 150 to take a comfortable 4-2 lead.
The seventh frame was a long drawn affair as both cueists adopted safety first tactics and blocked the cue ball. But Sethi's experience stood him in good stead. He had the last laugh as he strung together an unfinished break of 91 to clinch the issue.
"When you are playing in the knock-out phase you are prone to make certain mistakes," Geet said after reaching the final.
In the other semi-final, India's other leading cueist leading cueist Ashok Shandilya, who is the defending point limit world champion, went down fighting to Lee Lagan of England in a high voltage match.
The best-of-nine frames semi-final stretched to its fullest as the two cueists matched each other in a two-hour battle.
With the players taking a frame alternately, tension mounted as the match went into the decider with the scores level 4-4. But the Englishman compiled a start to finish break of 152 in the final frame to win 46-150, 151-59, 46-153, 151-90, 151-2, 86-151, 15-151, 150-10, 0-152 and seal a place in the final.
After winning the match, a relieved Lagan said, "I was under tremendous pressure particularly in the last frame. But I got a good chance and made best use of it."
Shandilya, who won the Asian billiards title in 2002, said his opponent played a better game.
"I missed out one canon and it cost me the match. He got the final chance after being level at 4-4 which made all the difference," he said.
Lagan, who said he was under immense pressure in the decider, stuck to top table safety play and garnered his points. He only played long when the bulk line crossing warning was sounded by referee.
A packed hall witnessed quality billiards at the solitary table laid for the first semi-final after Shandilya fumbled at 46 and allowed the Englishman to win the first frame with a convincing break of 87 on his fifth visit.
But Shandilya bounced back to take the second with breaks of 72 and 85.
The two players took turns in winning frames then, the Englishman taking the third with a break of 114 and the Indian the fourth with a 101, as the scores stayed tied at 2-all.
Shandilya continued with the good showing in the fifth, compiling a break of 122 to forge a 3-2 lead, only to see Lagan reply with a 72 to make it 3-3.
Lagan then put together breaks of 84 and 65 to establish a 4-3 lead. But the Indian ace showed the stuff he is made of with a neat compilation of 143 to again tie the scores at four frames apiece.
However, an unfinshed break of 152 by the Englishman in the decider left Shandilya a mere spectator.
"The match took quite interesting turns as we were level at 2-2 and I went down 2-3. But my efforts and nice placements on the table got me the match," said Lagan, who ousted U Aung Son Oo of Myanmar in the quarter-finals.
Results: Ashok Shandilya (India) lost to Lee Lagan (England) 46-150, 151-59, 46-153, 151-90, 151-2, 86-151, 15-151, 150-10, 0-152; Geet Sethi beat Paul Bennett 151-75, 152-40, 150-13, 142-154, 47-151, 150-0, 150-75.