Reigning world champion Pankaj Advani and veteran Geet Sethi will spearhead Indian challenge in a more than 200-strong field of cueists vying for the top honours at the World Snooker Championship commencing in Hyderabad tomorrow.

Dubbed as Olympics of Snooker, the two-week mega event will also see top Indians like Saurav Kothari, Rupesh Shah, Yasin Merchant, Manan Chandra, Devendra Joshi, Brijesh Damani, Kamal Chawla, Shahbaaz Khan and Aditya Mehta in action.

Indian women’s challenge will be spearheaded by two-time quarterfinalist Vidya Pillai, Chitra Magimairajan and Anuja Chandra at the sprawling Hyderabad International Convention Centre.

Paul Thomerson (Australia), Deano Kenee (New Zealand), Noppadon Noppadorm (Thailand), Steve Bailley (Scotland), Joe Delaney (Ireland), Andre Vill (Russia), Matk Keving (England), Jaiqui Ip (China), Sherly Smith (Australia), Delphine Morel (France) and Claudia Weber (Australia) were some of the foreigners who have confirmed participation in the event.

“We had started planning for the event one and a half years back and at the bidding in Australia, beat the likes of England, China and Australia to bring it here,” Billiards and Snooker Federation of India President Capt PVK Mohan said.

“We have organised a series of world class events every year since 2003, but with the World Snooker Championship in India, we have achieved a milestone. This is going to be one of the biggest snooker tournaments ever held in India,” Capt Mohan said.

For the first time, this Championship will be shown on television on each of the 11 days, with Sports broadcaster ESPN-Star Sports showing it live from pre-quarterfinals stage.

It will also be for the first time that women referees will officiate during the event as eight ladies have already sent their confirmation.

According to the IBSF rules, 20 international referees are being invited to officiate at the event.

There will be 20 match tables along with six for practice with each one having an individual scoreboard and will be equipped with the latest technology.

“I’ll put my best foot forward and try to regain the title, I won at Jiangmen in China in October 2003,” World Professional Billiards champion Pankaj Advani said.

Geet Sethi, runner-up in the masters division last year, is equally confident of a good show and said, “the event would go a long way in showing the world that India can hold competitions of this stature.”

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