Aditya Mehta claimed his maiden National snooker title with a clinical 6-2 (66-6, 29-69, 72-65, 67-41, 67-10, 74-58, 43-52, 82-5) defeat of Alok Kumar in the best-of-eleven frame final at the Hash10 World Sim championships, here on Tuesday.
Successive breaks of 24, 14 and 21 gave Aditya Mehta the first frame but Alok Kumar soon levelled the frame-score with a 69-29 verdict in the second. Alok Kumar, a 13-time National champion (across four categories), took full toll each time Mehta's safe play failed to come off and sat back when the position would not allow for aggressive potting. The strategy paid dividends in the second frame, and for most parts of the third.
Leading 51-16 in the third, Alok Kumar's slightly heavy touch on the cue ball directed it into one of the pockets after having potted a colour (he later admitted to his touch ‘being either too heavy or too light' all match) to let Mehta back into the frame again.
The 27-year-old hit in a 27 to bring the score to 51-43 and a little later cleared the table to level the frame at 63-63. When the black was re-spotted, Alok Kumar had another chance to assume the lead, only for the ball to resist at the cusp of the pocket.
Aditya Mehta made no mistake on his next turn to make it 2-1 during the passage of play that both cueists admitted to have been the turning point of the match.
Added to the exertions of the morning, when he was pushed to 5-3 in his semifinal win (as opposed to Mehta's 5-0 dismissal of Manu Dev) over Neeraj Kumar, Alok Kumar had gone deep into the draw in the billiards event as well, and was beginning to feel the pinch. His potting became erratic and his touch, heavy.
Trailing 47-41, he missed another regulation pot, only to watch Aditya Mehta make no mistake in clearing the table with an unfinished break of 20 to take a 3-1 lead.
The gap continued to widen as Mehta assumed control of the match with a 67-10 result in the fifth frame for a 4-1 lead. Though Alok Kumar appeared to visibly tire towards the end of the match, Aditya Mehta's continued ability to make his chances count was proving to be decisive.
At 58-34 in Alok Kumar's favour, the sixth frame went the way of the fourth, as the veteran's mistake that brought a break of 37 to an end, also opened the position up for Aditya Mehta. Not one to let opportunities pass, he compiled an unfinished break of 40 to get to the cusp of his first senior National title at 5-1.
The seventh frame saw both players appear a little ragged, as they missed several chances to rack up breaks on a scattered table. After an extended session of hit and miss, Alok Kumar finally got moving with a break of 36 to go up 52-13.
When it was Aditya Mehta's turn he potted the two reds (“the two most difficult reds of the match,” he said later) and cleared the colours bar the pink and the black. Having to clear the table to pocket the title, the pink disappointingly refused to sink, giving Alok the frame. That was only delaying the inevitable as a break of 44 in the next frame gave the impressive Aditya Mehta the title.
“A bit of both, tiredness and lack of form. The semifinal should have been shorter; I let him (Neeraj Kumar) take two more frames than I should have,” said Alok Kumar after the match, explaining his flagging form towards the end of the contest. He also said if the third frame with the re-spotted black had gone his way, things would have been different. “You don't feel too tired when you are in the lead,” he said.
Aditya Mehta, who referred to the title as the ‘missing item' on his already impressive resume, said it suited him that the semifinal and the final were on the same day. “My intent was to score heavy and put him under pressure. It was to my advantage that we played two matches on the same day because I am fit enough to handle it, while physical fitness isn't a priority for a lot of others.”
DMDK President Vijayakanth gave away the prizes while Arun Pandian, President of TNBSA, and Venkatesh Bhatt, General Secretary of TNBSA, were also present during the function.
The results (final, best-of-eleven frames): Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt Alok Kumar (PSPB) 6-2 (66-6, 29-69, 72-65, 67-41, 74-58, 43-52, 82-5).
Semifinals (best-of-nine frames): Aditya Mehta bt Manu Dev 5-0 (65-5, 67-12, 79-6, 70-31, 64-16); Alok Kumar (PSPB) bt Neeraj Kumar 5-3 (34-86, 78-40, 75-10, 74-16, 56-50, 36-63, 55-63, 61-49).
Keywords: National snooker championship