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Alok Kumar wins Asian Snooker Championship

June 11, 2004 21:03 IST

National Snooker champion Alok Kumar became the second Indian to win the Asian Snooker Championship as he relied on his experience to subdue compatriot Pankaj Advani in an all-Indian final in Aqaba, Jordan on Friday.

The 35-year-old Punjab cueist displayed a fine blend of aggression and safe play against World Amateur champion Advani to win his first major international title.

Yasin Merchant, who lost in the quarter-finals to Habib Mahmood of Bahrain, had earlier won the title in 1989 and 2001.

The summit clash was touted to be an intriguing battle between experience and youth power but Alok Kumar made sure that the 19-year-old Advani was not allowed to get into his groove and emerged victorious 6-3.

In what was seen as the repeat of the National championship final at the Asian stage, Advani took advantage of a lapse by Alok Kumar to take the first frame.

But this was enough to spur up the veteran as he took the next four frames to race to a 4-1 lead at the break.

After the break, both players took a safety first approach and took alternate frames till Alok Kumar reached to the magical figure of six.

"It is a very happy moment of my life. I have been performing well on the international circuit for last five-six years but an international title was eluding me. But this time I made no mistake," Alok Kumar told PTI on phone from Jordan.

"After we came back from the break the game was scrappy as both opted for safety first approach but I controlled it well to emerge victorious," Alok Kumar said.

The victory of Alok Kumar also ensured that India will have an unprecedented four entries in the World Snooker Championship as he and Advani would get a direct entry.

Advani was all praise for his opponent after the match.

"Alok played very well in the final and deserved to win," he said.

This year has been a fantastic one for Alok Kumar who became the first player to win both the Billiards and Snooker crown in the same national championship after legendary Geet Sethi achieved the feat in 1985.

He also qualified for the World 9-ball Pool Championship to be played in Chinese Taipei next month after a five-leg Asian tour in which he finished 10th.

The player has the distinction of having won the National Championship in five events of Cue Sports out of possible six with Caromole being the exception.

He also bagged the silver medal in the Busan Asian Games in Billiards and won the bronze medal in World Billiards championship at Sydney in 2002.

Congratulating Alok Kumar on his achievement,  Billiards and Snooker Federation of India Vice President R K Tandon said the fine run of the senior players would also inspire the younger lot in the near future.

Result: Alok Kumar beat Pankaj Advani 6-3 (50-69, 99-43, 78-22, 63-9, 81-32, 42-61, 81-26, 32-68, 80-9).

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