Referee Irfan Mirza could not hide his mixed feelings at having officiated one of the best snooker duels ever — between former National snooker champion Sarang Shroff and I.H. Manudev — in a crucial round robin league match of the Manisha 79th National billiards and snooker championship here on Wednesday.
“It was a master class. It had all the drama. Both played positive snooker. The tragedy is that one had to lose and go out of the tournament,'' said Mirza. After a thrilling match that lasted 80 minutes, Shroff scored a 3-2 win and confirmed his entry into the round of 32.
But Manudev's elimination from the tournament came after his Karnataka teammate Yogesh Kumar trounced Railway Sports Promotion Board's K. Venketesham 3-1.
Results much against the run of play also enabled No. 3 seed Neeraj Kumar to stay in the tournament. Once Karnataka's Sajan Bopanna struck form to beat Gujarat's Bhadresh Panchal with the match going the distance, Neeraj Kumar knew that he had to beat Bopanna 3-0 in his last league match for a superior frame difference and average.
There were century breaks by Advani and Chandra and also Vivek Chopra, who, however, lost 1-3 to Advani and failed to qualify.
The results: Group A: Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt Sunil Kumar (HP) 3-0, bt Aneesh Saini (Har) 3-0; Sunil Kumar bt Yogesh Sharma (Mah) 3-1; Saini bt Sumesh Turki (J&K) 3-2.
Group B: Bharat Sisodiya (MP) bt Laltintluanga (Miz) 3-0; Pulkit Thukral (Del) bt Alok Kumar (PSPB) 3-2, bt Sisodiya 3-0; Thukral (Del) bt Lalsangzela (Miz) 3-1.
Group C: Neeraj Kumar (RSPB) bt Aamir Husain (WB) 3-0, bt Sajan Bopanna (Kar) 3-0; Bopanna bt Bhadresh Panchal (Guj) 3-2; Brijesh Damani (WB) bt Hussain 3-0.
Group D: Sarang Shroff (Mah) bt Pratik Jain (MP) 3-1, bt I.H. Manudev (Kar) 3-2; K. Venketesham (RSPB) bt Manudev 3-1; Yogesh Kumar (Kar) bt Venketesham 3-1.
Group E: Kamal Chawla (RSPB) bt Himanshu Jain (AP) 3-0, bt Kunal Manchanda (Raj) 3-0; Manchanda bt Anuj Sharma (Goa) 3-2; Jain bt Anand Raghuvanshi (Mah) 3-1.
Group F: Vivek Chopra (Pun) bt Rajat Khaneja (Chd) 3-2; Nikhil Ootam (Mah) bt Dhaval Makwana (Guj) 3-1; Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Chopra 3-1.
Group G: Dhruv Varma (Pun) bt Jeet Kishore Das (Odi) 3-1; Manan Chandra (PSPB) bt Jeet Kishore Das (Odi) 3-1; Divya Sharma (Har) bt RishitJain (Del) 3-2.
Group H: I.V. Rajiv (HP) bt Sukumar Barman (Asm) 3-0, bt Rafat Habib (RSPB) 3-0; Habib bt Ahsan-ul-Haque (Odi) 3-0; Varun Madan (Del) bt Ahsan-Ul-Haque 3-1.
Group I: Rupesh Shah (PSPB) bt Amarnath Sharma (Meg) 3-0;, bt J. Varun Kumar (TN) 3-2. Varun Kumar bt Mridul Das (Asm) 3-0; Lucky Vatnani (AP) bt Anuj Sharma (Goa)3-1.
Group K: Pushpinder Singh (RSPB) bt Vipin Premi (UP) 3-0; Shivam Arora (Bih) bt Rahul Bhargava (Raj) 3-0, bt Pushpinder 3-1; Vijay Nachani (TN) bt Premi 3-1.
Group L: Devendra Joshi (PSPB) bt Md. Shoaib Khan (WB) 3-1, bt Akshay Kumar (UP) 3-0; Akshay bt Rupesh Chauhan (HP) 3-1; Durga Prasad (RSPB) bt Shoaib Khan 3-2.
Group M: Kamal Rohmetra (J&K) bt Volney Gomendis (Goa) 3-0; Shankar Rao (AP) bt M. Senthil (TN) 3-1; Shahbaz Adil Khan (RSPB) bt Rohmetra 3-0.
Group N: Lalrina Renthlei (Miz) bt Imran Ganj (TN) 3-0; Rishabh Pandya (Mah) bt Gunjan Patel (Guj) 3-0.
Group O: Shyam Jagtiani (WB) bt Hasan Badami (Mah) 3-2, bt Rushabh Jain (Mah) 3-0; Siddharth Parikh (RSPB) bt Dhvaj Haria (Guj) 3-0; Hasan Badami (Mah) bt Dhvaj Haria (Guj) 3-2; Lalrina Renthlei (Miz) bt Sandeep Gulati (Del) 3-1.
Group P: Manish Jain (WB) bt Anupam Jha (Bih) 3-0; R. Girish (RSPB) bt Rovin D'Souza (Mah) 3-2; Faisal Khan (RSPB) bt Jain 3-1.