Joshi tops Group 'A', Pankaj overcomes fighting New Zealander

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Bangalore, Sep 2 (UNI) Former Asia Champion Devendra Joshi topped the Group 'A', while favourite Pankaj Advani survived a scare against Gary Oliver of New Zealand to top the Group 'B' in the ONGC IBSF World Billiards Championship (Points Format) played at the KSBA hall here today.

Joshi, who had shocked defending champion Rupesh Shah in the second pool match yesterday, defeated Sri Lankan S M Shaharwardi 3-0 in the last encounter and maintained a clean slate in Group A.

Both of them had ensured their berth in the pre-quarters with two wins each, yesterday.

In the keenly contested match, World Billiards and Snooker Champion Pankaj had to sweat it out against the New Zealander who stretched the Indian ace for more than 180 minutes.

After conceding the first frame at 101-151, Pankaj regained his concentration to win the second 151-98, but Gary bounced back to clinch the third frame at 117-151 to go 2-1 up. Proving his supremacy the 23-year-old Bangalorean bludgeoned his opponent winning the fourth at 152-00 to equal the scores. In the decider Pankaj scored a century break which was countered by Oliver by a 107 but he missed a red pot. Without wasting the opportunity, Pankaj reached the magic figure to win at 150-107 to earn a hardfought 3-2 win.

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