Qualifier Malkeet Singh held his nerve to edge out I.H. Manudev 151-136, 72-152, 29-151 (120), 151-148, 152-44 and reach the quarterfinals of the National billiards championship here on Monday.

Accomplished snooker player Brijesh Damani got the better of K. Venkatesham, while junior cueist Jaiveer Dhingra shocked the seasoned Devendra Joshi to ensure their first-ever quarterfinal appearance.

Dhruv Sitwala also punched above his weight to beat Ashok Shandilya for a last-eight slot. Experienced players Alok Kumar, B. Bhaskar, Rupesh Shah and Sourav Kothari also registered victories to complete the quarterfinal line-up.

Gritty performance

Malkeet, known for his skills in snooker, gave a gritty display against Manudev. In a see-saw affair, Manudev wiped out a one-frame deficit to take a 2-1 lead with a superb 120-break in the third. The Karnataka player needed just two points in the fourth frame to wrap up the match in his favour.

However, luck smiled on Malkeet as he got an opportunity and gathered 20 points through some sound potting to stay in the match and eventually win it. “During the junior days, I used to play billiards. I resumed practice and got through. Today, I hung in there and gave my best,” he said.

Damani sought inspiration from his opponent Venkatesham's rollicking century break (111) in the opening frame and made some fine breaks to boost his chances. In the decider, he played aggressively and benefited from it.

Alok Kumar overcame some tough moments against qualifier Aditya Agrawal. “Winning this round was important since the top-eight finishers in the Nationals will be considered during selection of the Indian team for the Asian billiards,” he said.

The results:

Pre-quarterfinals: Dhruv Sitwala bt Ashok Shandilya 151 (93)-62, 152 (51)-148, 150 (74)-74; Jaiveer Dhingra bt Devendra Joshi 150-93, 151-104, 150-46; Sourav Kothari bt Siddharth Parikh 50-151, 150 (113)-0, 152-129 (118), 151-42; Brijesh Damani bt K. Venkatesham 34-152 (111), 151-57, 151 (82)-41, 48-151 (79), 150-75; Alok Kumar bt Aditya Agrawal 150-80, 8-150 (117), 150-42, 150 (90)-75; Malkeet Singh bt I.H. Manudev 151-136, 72-152, 29-151 (120), 151-148, 152-44; Rupesh Shah bt D. Raj Kumar 81-151, 150 (88)-47, 151 (130)-106, 150 (98)-14; B. Bhaskar bt Manish Jain 150-85, 150-102, 99-150, 150-47.

Sunday's results:

Group D: Dhvaj Haria bt Dhruv Sitwala 79-100, 100-49, 13-103, 100-42, 101-41.

Group E: Jaiveer Dhingra bt Sanjay Alaudia 100-39, 100-17, 100-25; Yash Rungta bt Deepinder Singh 85-100, 100-32, 100-51, 100-17.

Group F: Jaswinder Singh bt Ajay Rehani 100-60, 100-68, 100-20; Devendra Joshi bt Manish Jain 2-103, 100-76, 57-100, 100-39, 100-85; Durga Prasad bt Shakeel Ahmed 100-7, 100-38, 36-100, 44-100, 100-65.

Group G: Mumtaz Ali bt Jagadesh B. 100-80, 51-102, 100-71, 103-22; Malkeet Singh bt Akshay Kumar 100 (53)-57, 101-14, 101-88; K. Venkatesham bt Arun Agrawal 102-65, 36-100, 100-66, 100-42.

Group H: Aditya Agrawal bt Ketan Chawla 21-101, 101-97, 76-101, 100-23, 101-43; Sourav Kothari bt Rafath Habib 82-102, 102-63, 5-102, 102-35, 100-30; Shyam Jagtiani bt Parthiv Jhaveri 102-73, 42-100, 100-99, 75-101, 100-37.

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