Kolkata, Jan 23: Pankaj Advani managed to keep himself in line for a double after two tough outings as the 12-time world champion will take on qualifier Varun Madan in the summit showdown of the Senior National Snooker Championship at the Bengal Rowing Club tomorrow.
The star of the day however was unfancied Varun Madan who showed exceptional shot selection to continue his giant-killing run as he ousted India No 2 and second seed Kamal Chawla 5-3 in the quarters and overcame a stiff 5-4 challenge from Manan Chandra en route to the final.
Having overcome a blip to pip Railways' Faisal Khan from the quarters this morning, Advani faced the biggest challenge of the tournament when Punjab's senior pro Dharminder Lily made it 4-4 from being 1-3 down to take it to the decider frame.
Such was the pressure that Advani had to seek the advice of his mentor and Dronacharya awardee coach Arvind Savur who told the 29-year-old to play his natural game.
"He told me 'take it in your stride, you've been in such situations before.' Sometimes, such little words of inspiration work in your favour," a relieved Advani said after sealing the issue in the ninth frame with the scoreline reading 13-67, 58-12, 55-08, 86-07(68), 21-68, 30-68, 87-00, 05-70, 76-37.
Having won the billiards crown last week, the PSPB heavyweight will now look to make a fourth double, and first since 2009.
On his unheralded final opponent, Advani said: "Snooker has become very unpredictable... Like I could have lost the match today and tomorrow in the papers it would have been a big upset.
"I know him very well. Varun Madan has been in the form of his life, he has come of age something that will be a warning for me."
Advani further rued about the hectic schedule with back to back knock out matches for two days. "It's very demanding when you play one match in the morning and then another in the afternoon. It's important to space out especially the knock-out matches."
Even as all the eyes were on the Advani-Lily clash, the battle between the Varun Madan and Chandra was a cliffhanger.
Down 3-4, it was a do or die for the 24-year-old Delhi lad who showed an impeccable shot selection to pull him through take the clash to the deciding ninth frame. Keeping his momentum intact, he won the decider comfortably with the scoreline reading 50-62, 73-21, 97-04, 10-69, 54-40, 15-75, 37-74, 81-48, 61-02.