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Sport - Billiards & Snooker Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Advani poses the biggest challenge

By Kirti Patil

GWALIOR, FEB. 5. A host of champions, current and former, for the National billiards championship, which cues off at the Jiwaji University here on Friday, make the field an impressive destination for the challengers.

Defending champion Alok Kumar, last year's runner-up Dhruv Sitwala, seven-time World champion Geet Sethi and former champions, Ashok Shandilya, Rupesh Shah and Devendra Joshi, will face off over the next six days to uncover the 70th winner of the prestigious lion-faced trophy.

Then there are challengers, though not many. Junior champion Pankaj Advani remains the most possible threat to the seasoned players, as does Rishabh Thakkar.

Advani will have the advantage of having played on all the tables during the junior National billiards and snooker championship, which concluded here on Wednesday.

"Though the billiards title has been so far elusive let's hope I am able to do it now. I am happy with the way I am playing,'' said Advani, who leads Group `C'.

It is also time for Thakkar, who made it to the main draw through a qualifying tournament, to show that he is right up there. Though he has lost to Advani in the junior Nationals, there is no reason for a player of his calibre not to advance at least to the quarterfinals. Anything further would be the bonus.

As for Sethi, none can count him out. In billiards, he is still the best. Sethi last played in the Nationals in Ahmedabad where he lost in the semifinals to Alok Kumar, who went on to lose to Shandilya. And, in the recently held World billiards championship in Hyderabad, played on 150-up format, Sethi finished runner-up.

The results: Qualifying snooker: Qualifying round: Mohammed Asim (Rly) bt Antim Singhi (Rly) 52-42, 32-86, 74-9, 58-8; Shyam Jagtiani (Rly) bt Rishabh Thakkar (Mah) 48-39, 67-23, 93-55; Anuj Uppal (Del) bt Kamal Chawla (MP) 78-15, 57-31, 62-71, 70-17; K. Someshwara Rao (AP) bt Omar Balsara (Mah) 76-7, 57-29, 38-60, 66-21.

Third round: Antim Singhi bt Geet Sethi (Guj) 73-37, 80-50, 94-10; Mohammed Asim bt Sunil Sharma (Kar) 98-46, 51-43, 20-59, 123-0; Shyam Jagtiani bt Siddharth Parikh (Rly) 77-31, 61-11, 41-31; Rishabh Thakkar bt K. Venkatesham (Rly) 66-26, 53-39, 49-38; Anuj Uppal bt R. Prabhakaran (Rly) 74-32, 63-70, 89-4, 58-31; Kamal Chawla bt Rahul Agarwal (MP) 76-6, 56-73, 66-41, 59-39; Omar Balsara bt Dhruv Sitwala (Rly) 80-28, 48-73, 71-44, 0-80, 47-44; K. Someshwara Rao bt Vishal Madan (Rly) 40-59, 66-33, 76-42, 68-54.

Second round: Rishabh Thakkar bt Siddharth Anand (Del) 21-61, 61-28, 71-76, 58-3, 61-56; K. Venkatesham bt Anurag Bagri (Ben) 75-41, 38-69, 79-16, 35-57, 69-51; Dhruv Sitwala bt Farooq Ebrahim (AP) 89-9, 56-44, 22-76, 78-31; Omar Balsara bt Bhupinder Singh (Del) 66-26, 80-38, 60-1; K. Someshwara Rao bt Sudhir Pateriya (MP) 63-52, 62-58, 73-41; Vishal Madan bt Devendra Joshi (Mah) 63-23, 32-92, 80-50, 49-36; Shyam Jagtiani bt Hitesh Kotwani (Mah) 85-8, 42-72, 70-63, 78-33; Rahul Agarwal bt Irfan Mirza (Rly) 59-46, 32-57, 55-67, 59-31, 80-66.

The groupings: Group A: Alok Kumar (Pun), Rupesh Shah (Guj), Ajay Rehani (Del) and Subrat Das (Ori). Group B: Dhruv Sitwala (Rly), Yasin Merchant (Mah), Mohammed Nayeem (UP) and A. Haque (Ori). Group C: Pankaj Advani (Kar), Prem Prakash (TN), Dharminder Lilly (Pun) and Neeraj Kumar (Bih). Group D: Devendra Joshi (Mah), Sourav Kothari (Ben), Samir Bhalla (Har), Kamal Chawla (MP) and Ami Lal (Del). Group E: Ashok Shandilya (Rly), Debasish Mukherjee (Ben), Aswarya Arya (MP), Praveen Kumar (TN) and Siddharth Parikh (Rly). Group F: Geet Sethi (Guj), Manish Srivastava (Har), Jaswinder Singh (Raj), Nishant Azad (J and K) and Shyam Jagtiani (Rly). Group G: B. Bhaskar (Kar), I.S. Malik (UP), Farooq Ebrahim (AP), Yogendra Rai (MP) and Rishabh Thakkar (Mah). Group H: Mohammed Asim (Rly), S. Mumtaz Ali (Bih), Durga Prasad (AP), Micky Bhargawa (Raj) and Vishal Madan (Rly).

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