Neeraj Kumar was the only major casualty among the top eight seeded players as 80 snooker players got into action in the round-robin league rounds of the Manisha 79th National billiards and snooker championships here on Monday.
Seeded No. 3 behind the last year's winner Aditya Mehta and runner–up Alok Kumar, Neeraj Kumar went down to Gujarat's Bhadresh Panchal in a match that did not produce anything spectacular nor a significant break.
Sarang Shroff was another victim; the former champion raced to a 2-0 lead, but gave leeway for the qualifier from Karnataka M. Yogesh Kumar to take his winning streak to the first day of the tournament proper.
While Neeraj and Shroff were humbled by a lesser known players, the five-time National champion Pankaj Advani survived a scare dropping the first two frames to Chandigarh's Rajat Khaneja. But once the champion cueist carved an 88 in the third, he put his opponent in his place taking the last three frames to win the match.
The results (all league matches set to five frames):
Group A: Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt Sumesh Turki (J&K) 3-0, Aneesh Saini (Har) bt Yogesh Sharma (Mah) 3-0, Sunil Kumar (HP) bt Sumesh Turki 3-0. Group B: Alok Kumar (PSPB) bt Peter Lalrintluanga (Miz) . Bharat Sisodiya (MP) bt Lalsangzela (Miz) 3-1, Pulkit Thukral (Del) bt Peter Lalrintluanga 3-0..
Group C : Bhadresh Panchal (Guj) bt Neeraj Kumar (RSPB) 3-1, Brijesh Damani (WB) bt Sajan Bopanna (Kar) 3-0. Group D: I.H. Manudev (Kar) bt Pratik Jain (MP) 3-0, M. Yogesh Kumar (Kar) bt Sarang Shroff (Mah) 3-2, K. Venketesham (RSPB) bt Pratik Jain 3-0..
Group E: Kamal Chawla (RSPB) bt Anuj Sharma (Goa) 3-0, Anand Raghuvanshi (Mah) bt Kunal Manchanda (Raj) 3-0, Himanshu Jain (AP) bt Anuj Sharma 3-0. Group F: Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Rajat Khaneja (Chd) 3-2, Vivek Chopra (Pun) bt Dhaval Makwana (Guj) 3-0, Rajat Khaneja bt Nikhil Ootam (Mah) 3-1.
Group G : Manan Chandra (PSPB) bt Dhruv Varma (Pun) 3-0, Rishit Jain (Del) bt Jeet Kishore Das (Ori) 3-0. Group H: Rafat Habib (RSPB) bt Sukumar Burman (Asm) 3-0, I. V. Rajiv (AP) bt Varun Madan (Del) 3-2, Ahsan-Ul-Haque (Ori) bt Sukumar Burman (Asm) 3-0.
Group I: Rupesh Shah (PSPB) bt Mridul Das (Asm) 3-1, Lucky Vatnani (AP) bt J. Varun Kumar (TN) 3-1. Group J: Sumit Talwar (Chd) bt A.R. Arjun (Kar) 3-0 & bt A. Deepak (Kar) 3-2, Vinayak Agrawal (UP) bt A.R.Arjun 3-0.
Group K: Pushpinder Singh (RSPB) bt Rahul Bhargava (Raj) 3-1, Shivam Arora (Bih) bt Vijay Nichani (TN) 3-0, Vipin Premi (UP) bt Rahul Bhargava (Raj) 3-1.
Group L : Devendra Joshi (PSPB) bt Rupesh Chauhan (HP) 3-0, Md. Shoaib Khan (WB) bt Rupesh Chauhan 3-0, Durga Prasad (RSPB) bt Akshay Kumar (UP) 3-2.
Group M: Shahbaaz Adil Khan (PSPB) bt Volney Gomendis (Goa) 3-0, Shankar Rao (AP) bt Kamal Rohmetra (J & K) 3-2, M. Senthil (TN) bt Volney Gomendis 3-0.
Group N: Imran Ganj (TN) bt Sundeep Gulati (Del) 3-0, Lalrina Renthlei (Miz) bt Rishabh Pandya (Mah) 3-1, Gunjan Patel (Guj) bt Imran Ganj 3-1.
Group O: Siddharth Parikh (RSPB) bt Hasan Badami (Mah) 3-2 & bt Shyam Jagtiani (WB) 3-0.
Group P: Faisal Khan (RSPB) bt Anupam Jha (Bih) 3-0, R. Girish (RSPB) bt Manish Jain (WB) 3-0& bt Faisal Khan (RSPB) 3-2; Rovin D'Souza (Mah) bt Anupam Jha (Bih) 3-0.