Gulati, Renthlai, Habib and Arora register comfortable wins

Yasin Merchant came from behind to win a tricky encounter, getting the better of K. Venkatesam 3-2, in a Group J match of the men's snooker event at the Hash10 World Sim Nationals here on Thursday.

Merchant appeared off-colour for most of the match and his potting was far from effective, but the veteran took recourse in closing the position down to eventually prevail in five low-scoring frames 66-35, 40-61, 34-61, 56-28, 52-43.

Series of fouls

Merchant's struggle became apparent in the first frame, as he was unable to better his break of 16 made during the first visit. With two reds and a brown clogging the right pocket at the baulk end, Merchant drew a series of fouls from Venkatesam to take the first frame.

The second saw Venkatesam start with a break of 22, a sequence that ended with an untimely miscue. Merchant's potting continued to bother him as he could still not accumulate a sizeable break, conceding the second 40-61, and the third 34-61.

With his back to the wall, Merchant finally strung together a sequence of pots, breaking 30 in the fourth frame, taking the contest to the decider. The break proved more of an aberration than the start of something special, as Merchant slipped to 20-42 in the fifth.

Venkatesam, however, chose to go for the kill (pot the lone red) rather than attempt to snook Merchant — a strategy that failed. Merchant took full toll, clearing the table off the coloured balls to come up with a last-gasp win.

Sandeep Gulati, Lalrina Renthlai, Rafath Habib and Shivam Arora were the other comfortable winners of the day. The group stage will go on until August 6, after which two players from each group will advance to the round of 32.

Lazer in main draw

Earlier, Nigel Lazer of Tamil Nadu, who is playing his first Nationals since 1997, made it through to the main draw after six gruelling rounds of qualification. Karnataka's trio of Amit Bhushan, Jaisim Tawin and Rajkumar, and Faisal Khan of Railways were the other qualifiers.

Other results (men's snooker, group stage, best-of-five): Group A: Saket Saurabh (Bih) bt Nikhil Ootam (Mah) 61-26, 59-39, 68-1; Group B: Rajat Kheneja (Chn) bt Rayan Khan (Goa) 14-59, 52-41 ,59-29, 59-29; Group C: Sumit Talwar (Chn) bt Shridar (Ap) 74-24, 62-34, 52-8; Group D: Balaji Reddy (Kar) bt Guruvinder Gulati (Pun) 84-17, 43-68, 34-64, 92-4, 52-49. Group E: Vijay Goel (Del) bt Vivek Chopra (Pun) 41-58, 68-39, 59-14, 63-46; Group F: Rafath Habib (Rly) bt Amarnath (Meg) 10-58, 73-11, 64-21, 57-50; Group G: Sarang Shroff (Mah) bt Mumtaz Ali (Jha) 42-31, 55-45, 52-58, 53-17; Group H: Lallawmkima (Miz) bt Abhimanya Gandhi (Guj) 62-50, 23-59, 60-25, 60-30.

Group I: R. Loganathan (TN) bt Sukumar Burman (Asm) 54-38, 61-21, 67-18; Group J: Anees Saini (Har) bt Jeet Kishore (Ori) 43-83, 55-51, 84-50, 50-25; Group K: Sandeep Gulati (Del) bt Ketan Sabahchandani (Guj) 62-43, 62-20, 76-15; Group L: Lalrina Renthlei (Miz) bt Bharat Sisodeya (MP) 61-10, 56-34, 66-46.

Group M: Subrat Das (Ori) bt Divya Sharma (Har) 51-42, 19-55, 51-29, 63-56; Group N: Pushpinder Singh (Rly) bt Nitin Agarwal 60-43, 57-49, 53-59, 75-17; Group O: Shankar Rao (AP) bt Kamal Rohetr (J&K) 54-48, 61-45, 10-76, 62-24; Group P: Shivam Arora (Bih) bt Manish Mordani (Meg) 104-7, 45-30, 90-15.

Road to qualification: Nigel Lazar (TN): R1: bye; R2: bt M. Rajan 40-32, 95-24, 61-43; R3: bt Nagaraj (Kar) 53-44, 28-56, 72-70, 62-14; R4: bt Kankan Shamshi (UP) 38-81, 79-13, 68-49, 67-43; R5: bt Akshay Kuamr (Del) 85-12, 70-9, 56-47; R6: bt Ashok Shamdilya 47-56, 62-51, 14-70, 74-42, 64-49.

Jaisim Tawin (Kar): R1: bt Polkit Thukra (Del) 39-45, 65-6, 2-84, 72-2, 65-56; R2: bt Rohit Saxena (UP) 59-37, 81-2, 49-56, 57-21; R3: bt I.V. Rajiv (AP) 7-62, 59-8, 59-30, 22-54, 58-56; R4: bt Arun Kumar (Mah) 18-65, 48-37, 11-54, 64-32, 89-62; R5: bt Wasim Ahmed (Rly) 41-67, 72-45, 50-62, 61-33, 64-26; R6: bt Mahesh Jagdule (Mah) 17-69, 70-1, 59-41, 55-17.

D. Rajkumar (Kar): R1: bye; R2: bt Mohamed Noorulla (TN) 83-26, 52-15, 69-2; R3: bt Amen Goel (Har) 66-32, 70-26, 69-28; R4: bt Arvind Kumar (AP) 51-6, 46-31, 48-25; R5: bt Vipin Premi (UP) 49-40, 52-59, 42-19, 62-26; R6: bt Siddarth Parekh (Rly) 78-35, 18-61, 88-83, 38-51, 67-47.

Faisal Khan (Rly): R1: bye; R2: bt Anand Raghu (Mah) 76-25, 57-23, 76-25; R3: bt Vasant (Kar) 67-19, 70-45, 73-25; R4: bt Shakeel Ahmed (WB) 84-34, 53-44, 78-54; R5: bt S.A. Saleem (TN) 14-69, 57-47, 72-39, 74-1; R6: bt Varun Madan (Del) 52-60, 63-1, 79-22, 60-51.

Amit Bhushan (Kar): R1: bt Rakesh Gupta (TN) 62-22, 74-15, 58-8; R2: bt M.C. Manoj (TN) 66-41, 58-40, 61-26; R3 :bt Aakaash Ashok (Mah) 59-39, 70-36, 32-54, 58-44; R4: bt Khizar Raoof (AP) 65-35, 15-103, 16-59, 69-0, 70-38; R5: bt Girish (Rly) 13-88, 71-47, 9-69, 56-14, 58-26; R6: bt Monu Chaudary (Del) 26-79, 73-49, 56-27, 10-68, 84-60.

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