Ahmedabad: Gujarat Kings peaked when it mattered most with a facile 3-0 win over Chennai Strikers to make it to the final of the of the Indian Cue Masters League.
The star of Thursday was the Kings’ Icon player Andrew Pagett who stunned an off-colour Pankaj Advani not once but twice – Snooker Doubles (with Daria Sirotina) and the Snooker Singles (Icon).
In the final, Gujarat Kings will play Delhi Dons.
In the first semi-final of the day, ‘Welsh Wizard’ Pagget paired up with Daria Sirotina to overcome the Indian pair of Advani / Vidya Pillai in the Snooker Doubles 24-8, 13-20, 37-18.
He returned to beat Advani in the Icon’s clash 7-41; 36-6; 30-2 in a game of fluctuating fortunes that included losing the first frame.
Gujarat Kings then saw Alok Kumar carry on the good work in the evening pulling off a solid 2-0 victory over Dharmender Lilly in the 9-ball pool to seal a place in the summit clash.
A confident Pagett later said; “I didn’t see it turn out any other way.” He added: “I love to play mind games with Pankaj and with the crowd behind me all the pressure was on him. I am looking ahead at playing the finals now.”
The Kings had a near perfect day, with Lady Luck favouring them and everything going their way.
Riding on the lead provided by Alok Kumar, Pagett/Daria put up a sterling display, not giving any opportunity to Advani/Vidya. They raced away to a 24-8 win in the opening frame.
But in the second, even though they were ahead 12-0 with barely a couple of minutes left, Pagett committed an unexpected error to let the Indian duo back in at 12-13. Vidya made it 13-13 and even pocketed the pink but had failed to call a time out. The officials ruled against her, forcing the game into a black ball shootout.
It was a tense, defensive finish, with none of the cueists taking any chance and coming up with a near-perfect defensive play. Pagett was finally forced into an error, allowing Advani to win the shootout and take the contest into the decider.
But this time, it was Advani who made the mistake, giving away the frame to the Gujarat Kings.
The Icon’s match lived up to its billing, with Pagett particularly playing like a true king. He claimed the opening frame 41-7 to put Pankaj completely under pressure. But Pankaj managed to claw his way back, producing an immaculate frame for a 36-6 win.
Pagett was once again in his elements in the decider, manufacturing a stunning shot to open up the table and a commanding 28-2 lead. Advani got a couple of chances to go for broke as the clock started ticking on him; but surprisingly, he didn’t go for them and lost the game, the match and the tie for Chennai Strikers.
Gujarat Kings b Chennai Strikers: 3-0
Match 1: Snooker Doubles: Andrew Pagett/ Daria Sirotina b Pankaj Advani/ Vidya Pillai 24-8, 13-20, 37-18; Result- 1-2
Match 2: Pool Singles: Alok Kumar b Dharminder Lilly 1-0; 1-0; Result- 0-2
Match 3: Snooker Singles (ICON): Andrew Pagett b Pankaj Advani: 7-41; 36-6; 30-2; Result: 1-2