Aditya wins thriller against Alok to enter semis

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Mumbai, Mar 8 (UNI) India number two Aditya Mehta of Mumbai endured a strong challenge before fashioning a pulsating 4-3 win over formidable Alok Kumar of Punjab to storm into the semi-finals of the Khar Gymkhana-Shyam Shroff Memorial Open Invitation Snooker Tournament at the Khar Gymkhana here today.

In the closest of the four quarter-final contests, Mehta sealed the issue with a thrilling 71-60, 82-47, 62-72, 6-61, 77-16, 1-84, 61-27 win in the best-of-seven frames tie that went down to the wire and lasted a marathon three hours.

After a close opening frame, Mehta got off to a dream start with a 2-0 lead that shook Kumar. But the ever dangerous Kumar relied on his vast experience to come right back into the match by clinching the third and fourth frames to level at two-all.

Both cueists were in good nick and this reflected when Mehta, who ignored Kumar's sudden threat, forged ahead 3-2 with a brilliant break of 63 in the fifth frame.

In the neck-to-neck battle between quality cueists, Kumar rifled in a significant break of 58 in the crucial sixth frame to force the decider and set the stage for a nail-biting finish.

The seventh and final frame was a humdinger as Mehta held on dearly to a 35-16 lead with five reds and the colours remaining.

Mehta put his supporters on the edge when he forfeited five crucial points while fouling on the blue after his T-shirt disturbed the green that was lying at the bottom cushion.

After much safety play by both, Mehta surged to a 42-21 advantage even as the versatile Kumar dared to break the monotony and attempt to pot three reds that, to his dismay, all rattled the jaw.

With just the colours remaining, Mehta and Kumar came up with a brilliant exhibition of snooker, both choosing to remain cautious and giving little away.

It was only a brilliant long yellow pot by Mehta that paved the way and after he potted the brown, Kumar realised he was out of the frame and an absorbing match.

Mehta set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with India number one Pankaj Advani, while twice Asian champion Yasin Merchant will take on Rupesh Shah of Gujarat in the other semi-final.

Advani, Merchant and Shah sailed into the last four, though Advani endured a late challenge from Lucky Vatnani of Hyderabad.

Results: Quarter-finals: Yasin Merchant (Mumbai) bt Devendra Joshi (PSPB) 77-4, 58-56, 60-35, 50-58, 58-19; Rupesh Shah (Guj) bt Marzdi Kalyaniwala (Mumbai) 77-50, 67-13, 66-44, 69-29; Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Lucky Vatnani (Hyderabad) 23-73, 86(81)-7, 118(82clr)-14, 60-35, 11-64, 77-55; Aditya Mehta (Mumbai) bt Alok Kumar (Punjab) 71-60, 82-47, 62-72, 6-61, 77(63)-16, 1-84(58), 61-27.

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