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Bengaluru Buddies stun Chennai Strikers, Delhi Dons notch up first win in Cue Slam - Indian Cue Masters League

In a dramatic Icon Match, Darren Morgan (Wales) stunned Pankaj literally with just a few seconds to go to make it 2-all.



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Ahmedabad, August 20: Bengaluru Buddies came from behind to shock Chennai Strikers while Delhi Dons raced away to victory in the Indian Cue Masters League here on Monday.

The Strikers were sitting pretty at 2-1, after Bengaluru-based Vidya Pillai notched up two points for her team, pairing up first with Pankaj Advani to win the Mixed Doubles Snooker match and then with Pandurangaiah from Nellore to win the Mixed Double Pool match as well.

But in a dramatic Icon Match, Darren Morgan (Wales) stunned Pankaj literally with just a few seconds to go to make it 2-all. In the decider, the snooker singles shootout, Laxman Rawat cruised to a 42-0 victory against Dharmender Lilly (Punjab) to clinch the tie for the Buddies.

In the second tie, Amir Sarkhosh of Iran put the Hyderabad Hustlers ahead by winning the 9-ball pool game in straight frames. But Kelly Fisher (Great Britain) and Malkeet Singh (Lucknow) pulled the Delhi Dons back by beating the MP pair of Kamal Chawla and Amee Kamani in the Mixed Doubles Snooker.

Laura Evans and Malkeet Singh then beat Anuj Uppal and Amee Kamani to make it 2-1 in favour of the Dons. Kelly Fisher wrapped up the tie by getting the better of Amir Sarkhosh in the Icon game.

The World No. 2 Indian, Kamal Chawla, lost out to Manan Chandra of the Dons by a huge margin to add to the woes of the Hyderabad Hustlers.

Earlier, the Buddies got off to a winning start, with Sundeep Gulati (Delhi) trouncing veteran Dharmender Lilly (Punjab) in straight frames in the 9-ball pool contest. 

The mixed doubles encounter, thereafter, was a game of patience and nerves, with both teams opting to play safe. Pankaj Advani and Vidya Pillai kept Darren Morgan (Wales) and Anastasia Nechaeva (Russia) on their toes, running neck to neck till 9-9.

At that point, Morgan whipped out a perfect snook to create a nice opening for his partner. They notched up 10 points to win the frame 19-7.

The second frame too was all about skill and strategy. The score card moved slowly as both pairs had to be content with the reds. But Pankaj pulled off a brown to take a slender 10-8 lead. It was enough to fetch the Strikers the frame and take the game to the decider.

Pankaj and Vidya again jumped to a 9-1 lead to put pressure on the Bengaluru Buddies duo. They consolidated it to 18-2 to comfortably win the frame 22-5 and the crucial second point for their team.

Pandurangaih (Nellore) paired up with the in form Pillai to brush aside the Buddies’ challenge (Sundeep Gulati and Anastasia) in straight games to take a 2-1 lead for the Strikers.

In the highly anticipated Icon clash, Pankaj began by clearing out 5 reds and racking up 30 straight points to win the first frame 41-10. He fell behind in the second frame though as Morgan raced away to a 29-6 lead. 

But with just two minutes left, Pankaj went on a rampage to narrow the lead down to 29-23. With just 15 seconds left, however, he missed the last last ball on the table to lose it in dramatic fashion.

In the decider too, Morgan jumped to a 15-9 lead. With just a little over two minutes left, Pankaj made it 18-15 but couldn’t put away the pink. Morgan pounced on it to regain the led and win the frame and the point.

"It was a tight and nerve wrecking game against Pankaj. We both were under pressure and it reflected as we missed easy points which we usually don't," said the Welshman playing for the Bengaluru Buddies. "I am happy with the end result. And hope all the Indian viewers and fans will accept such an entertaining new concept," he added. 

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