Geet Sethi frankly says that snooker is not his forte. But, the eight-time world billiards champion believes that the next edition of the World snooker championship to be held in Hyderabad from November 14 should see Indian players make the most of their home advantage.
“Talent-wise the Indians are not behind anyone. But, what separates them from the rest in any world event is the fact that Indians have not been able to establish a tradition of winning consistently in snooker. We are still on the look out for an extraordinary player who can become a world-beater,” the 48-year-old Geet Sethi said in an exclusive interview with The Hindu three days ahead of the championship.
Pankaj on a roll
“But I feel that Pankaj Advani is on a roll. He has a lot of momentum with him. Also, Manan Chandra, Aditya Mehta and Brijesh Damani, who were part of the Asian Indoor Games medal-winning squad, are high on confidence,” Sethi said.
“I think Aditya played superb snooker in Vietnam and the other two also joined the party as the event progressed,” the 1998 Asian Games gold medallist recalled.
“I think that at least two Indians may figure in the semifinals of the world snooker here. Essentially, we should be looking to start the tradition of winning in snooker and thereby get the confidence of doing well at this level,” he said.
What is his advice to the youngsters? “Make use of the home advantage, enjoy the ambience and most importantly play better than your normal benchmark,” says the master.
Very, very competitive
Geet who first won the World billiards title way back in 1985, confesses that snooker has never been his favourite, but recalls that he did win the World Team Masters title. “Yes, I will be playing in the Masters event (above 40 years) in Hyderabad. And, I am hoping to win the title now, having finished runner-up in the last edition. But, again it is important to remember that even the Masters field is very, very competitive,” he pointed out.
The four-time national snooker champion loves to recall one instance in the 1989 Guntur Nationals when he achieved the world’s first amateur maximum break of 147 in official competition. Unfortunately the footage of that accomplishment is not available. “I always loved playing in Andhra Pradesh and especially in Hyderabad,” he says.
“Personally, I am in a competitive mood and ready to play in any event any time,” says Sethi, in a way, issuing a veiled warning to the other contenders that the Indian legend is no push-over even now, after having played the sport with great success for about two decades.
The champion cueist has a word of appreciation for Capt P.V.K. Mohan, President of the Billiards & Snooker Federation of India.
“He set great standards while hosting the World billiards a few years ago in Hyderabad. And, I am confident that even the World snooker will spur the players to come up with special performances,” Sethi signed off.