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India win gold, silver in World Team Billiards

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It was a win-win situation for India on the occasion of Independence Day as the Pankaj Advani-led India B secured a gold while India A bagged a silver in the inaugural World Billiards Team Championship in Glasgow.

The winning team comprising Advani, Rupesh Shah, Devendra Joshi and Ashok Shandilya edged past the other national side (India A) 5-4 in an exciting final in Glasgow on Thursday night.

In a first of its kind, the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) decided to conduct a World Team event right after the Commonwealth Games, to showcase the sport for a possible inclusion in the next edition of the quadrennial sporting event.

This win takes the world title tally of India’s poster boy of cue sports, Advani, to an unprecedented 10.

The Bengaluru ace has entered the record books yet again, this time it is for winning the highest number of world titles by any Indian in any sport, let alone cue sports.

When asked about this win, Advani said, “Winning a gold for India on Independence Day is a dream come true. We could not have asked for a better outcome as both teams confirmed gold and silver for our beautiful country.”

On being the only Indian sportsperson to have ever reached a double figure in the world title tally, Advani said, “Ten is a number beyond my wildest imagination! This one is special for a couple of reasons. One, of course is because it’s the 10th, and two, it’s my first team world title and playing with fellow Indians is a special feeling.

“Rupesh, Ashok, Joshi and I bonded well and believed we had what it took to click as a unit and get the job done. Our team had tons of experience but of course our biggest challenge came from our own colleagues in India A.

“Credit to them to make the final as interesting as it could possibly get. Congratulations to all the Indian cueists for having a fantastic outing in this championship.”

The title clash was a thrilling contest that went down to the wire. It was a best-of-nine showdown with three rounds of 60-minute matches to be played by three players at a time.

India A comprising Alok Kumar, B Bhaskar, Sourav Kothari and Dhruv Sitwala, took the initial lead of 2-1 in the first of three rounds.

The match took a turn in favour of India B as they bounced back with a 2-1 win in Round 2. When it all came down to the final round, both teams were looking for two out of three wins, and it was India B and the two world champions – Advani and Shah – who rose to the occasion.

Advani handed a thumping defeat to Kothari with a scoreline of 613-116, with breaks of 216, 94, 86, 68 and 58. Kothari only managed a solitary break of 67.

Two-time world champion Shah got the better of Kumar with a facile 379-90 win. He compiled breaks of 125, 119 and 55.

Earlier in the semi-finals, India B made a smooth entry into the final stage with a 6-0 win over the Republic of Ireland. India A overcame the English challenge, winning the other semi-finals 5-1.

No cueist from the India A team has ever won a gold in Men’s World Championship.

On the other hand, India B went into the tournament with 12 world titles – Advani (9), Shah (2) and Shandilya (1). Now, they all get to add one more to their respective totals.

This was Devendra Joshi’s first world title.

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