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Gujarat Kings and Delhi Dons to face off in Indian Cue Masters League final

The Kings stunned the fancied Chennai Strikers to enter the final.


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Gujarat Kings after beating Chennai Strikers in the first semi final of the Cue Slam

Ahmedabad, August 24: Gujarat Kings’ Icon player Andrew Pagett stunned an off-colour Pankaj Advani to beat strongly fancied Chennai Strikers 3-0 and set up a fascinating duel with the Delhi Dons in the finals of the Indian Cue Masters League here on Thursday.

The Kings played brilliantly, romping the Dons in the 9-Ball Pool, the Mixed Doubles Snooker and the Icons matches to make the last two contests redundant.

The Dons, on the other hand, had to fight it out against the better organized Bengaluru Buddies for their tryst with destiny. They won 3-1, with Kelly Fisher turning the tables on Darren Morgan in the Icons clash to seal the win.

Earlier, Pagett, known as the Welsh Wizard, first paired up with Daria Sirotina to overcome Advani and his in form partner Vidya Pillai in the Snooker Doubles 2-1; then, he took on Advani in the Icons clash and outsmarted him 24-8, 13-20, 37-18 in a thriller.

Before him, his teammate Alok Kumar pulled off another unexpected 2-0 victory over Dharmender Lilly in the 9-ball pool to give the hosts a 3-0 unbeatable lead.

“I didn’t see it turn out any other way,” Pagett said, immediately after locking the match. “I love to play mind games with Pankaj and with the crowd behind me, all the pressure was on him,” he added.

“I am looking forward to playing here in the finals now,” Pagett said.

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 and Daria put up a sterling display, not giving any opportunity to Advani and 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 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 near-perfect defensive play. Pagett finally was forced into an error, allowing Pankaj to win the shootout and take the contest into the decider.

But this time, it was Pankaj who made the mistake, giving away the frame to the Gujarat Kings.

The Icons 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. Pankaj got a couple of chances to go for broke as the clock started ticking on him; but surprisingly, he didn’t go for them to lose the game, the match and the tie for Chennai Strikers.

In the day’s second tie, Delhi Dons took the early lead, with Manan Chandra beating Sundeep Gulati in straight frames in the 9-Ball Pool Singles.

Bengaluru Buddies restored parity by winning the Snooker Doubles. Darren Morgan and Anastasia Nechaeva out battled Kelly Fisher and Malkeet Singh 2-1. The Dons regained the lead when Malkeet Singh teamed up with Laura Evans to claim the Mixed Doubles Pool match.

Kelly Fisher then pulled off a sensational victory in the Icons’ match against Darren Morgan 2-1 to seal the place for the Dons.

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