India’s top cueist Pankaj Advani defeated England’s Mike Russell 5-2 to enter the final of the IBSF World Billiards Championship in Mandalay on Saturday.

In a clash of the titans, the defending champion Indian prevailed over the multiple-time world champion Briton in the semi-final match. Russell had lost at the same stage last year to settle for a bronze.

Advani, who is vying for his 22nd world title, will face local player Nay Thway Oo in the summit clash in a repeat of last year’s tournament.

Thway Oo had beaten Russell in the semi-finals last year before losing to Advani in the final.

In Saturday’s semi-final against Russell, Advani scored three back-to-back centuries but managed to convert only two of those frames as the Briton took advantage of the Indian’s error on 142 and made a 150.

The match was evenly poised at two frames a piece and could have gone either way. But Advani appeared to be on a mission as he made breaks of 63 and 123 in the last three frames to race to a 5-2 victory.

“I’m really pleased to enter the final again a year later. Mike played well so I knew I had to bring more firepower to the match to give myself a chance to defend my title. This feels like deja vu playing Oo again, that too in the final and in Myanmar two years in a row. Let’s hope the outcome is the same too,” Advani said.

In the other semi-final match, Thway Oo overcame India’s Sourav Kothari 5-3.

After taking a 3-1 lead, Kothari made a spirited comeback to level the match 3-3. However, the Myanmar star had other plans. He clinched the final two frames by firing in an unfinished 150 break followed by a 130 break to seal his spot in the final.

Results:

Pankaj Advani (India) defeated Mike Russell (England) 5-2: 150(114)-117(59), 142(142)-150(150), 152(118)-122(122), 45-151(74), 152(63)-142(85), 151(123)-96(66), 151-61.

Nay Thway Oo (Myanmar) beat Sourav Kothari (India) 5-3: 151(65)-125, 151(93)-95(93), 21-152(152), 150(122)-77(68), 79(72)-151(83), 110(103)-150, 150(150)-0, 152(130)-0.