SPORT

Remarkable comeback by Joshi to triumph



S.R. Suryanarayan

CHENNAI: Five years after he won the national title in this city, Devendra Joshi (PSPB) returned to win another and it could not have been a more dramatic victory over Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) in the billiards event in the LIC-BSNL national championship on Friday.

This championship has witnessed some unbelievable ups and downs and this final could also be included to that list for such was the fluctuation of fortunes.

Devendra trailed by close to 400 points around the half way stage, and made a remarkable comeback with an awe inspiring 479 break.

"That break did it for me for after the long semifinal session in the morning. I was tired and it was a stuggle," said the Deputy Manager with BPCL on his sensational recovery and ultimate victory.

Dhruv, who had finished second best at the Jammu national in 2003, had enough reasons to feel greatly disappointed that his effort again had to end in defeat, particularly when his steady and cautious approach had begun to bring rewards of handy breaks.

His best was a 337 break, followed by a 135, and the going was smooth as the lead kept enlarging.

When the score read 840-448 in Dhruv's favour and just little over an hour remaining, few in the gathering who had seen Devendra missing and shaking his head in despair would have given the latter a chance.

Regrouping

The drama began there as Devendra collected himself and soon the in-offs and cannons came smoothly; he gathered the balls to the top table with accuracy and purpose, there was no stopping him. Even a backache that needed a pain-killing spray did not perturb him until after collecting 479 points and taking over the lead, he missed a red and the applause as the ball wobbled in the mouth was well deserved.

Battle of wits

The score read 929-848 and from there began the battle of wits as tension mounted and time ticked away in the four-hour format.

Each kept missing but for Dhruv the worst came when he missed a cannon just five points short of Devendra's 1023 and only three minutes remaining.

Earlier in the morning, Devendra warmed up with a double century (270) break on his seventh visit and followed it up with a 405 in the next to virtually put Rupesh, a former champion himself once, on the defensive.

With another century (151) in the 9th visit, Devendra had left too long a leeway for Shah to recover. He knocked up one more century (114) later.

In comparison, Rupesh, who is known for his cautious approach could muster only two century breaks (154 and 105) but by then all was over. In the other semifinal,

Dhruv Sitwala, a finalist once, made it to the title-round at the expense of Md. Asim of Railways. Breaks of 163, 110 and 204 formed the highlight of Dhruv's show.

The results: Senior billiards: Final: Devendra Joshi (PSPB) bt Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) 1048-1020.

Semifinal: Devendra Joshi (PSPB) bt Rupesh Shah (Guj) 1498-832; Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) bt Md Asim (Rlys): 1246-752; Fifth place: Sourav Kothari (PSPB) bt B. Bhaskar (Kar) 490-200; Seventh place: Ashok Shandilya (Rlys) bt Venkatesam (Rlys) 349-250.

Snooker: League: Group A: Aditya Goenka (WB) bt Antim Singhi (Rlys) 46-60, 64-39, 63-40, 40-71, 58-30; Group B: Parbath (Kar) bt Raunaq Vazirani (Guj) 39-78, 60-49, 15-95, 64-22, 83-45; Group C: Kamal Chawla (Rlys) bt Deepak (Har) 57-64, 72-24, 98-0, 61-24; Group D: Yatheendaraj (TN) bt Arun Madhu (Raj) 68-47, 74-32, 67-41; Group E: M.C. Manoj (TN) bt Nishit Prakash (WB) 61-34, 60-25, 57-35; Baskar (Kar) bt Lucky Vatnanin (P) 50-33, 80-38, 81-28 Group F: Sarang Shroff (Mah) bt Joy Metha (Pun) 108-20, 94-4, 70-33; Group H: Nitin Agarwal (MP) bt Prem Prakash (TN) 82-31, 28-60, 38-55, 60-18, 54-46; Group I: S. Anand (Del) bt Somesh Rao (AP) 63-55, 44-43, 63-49, 20-52, 60-40; Group J: Shakeel Ahmed (Rlys) bt Neeraj (WB) 80-25, 61-20, 58-43; Group K: Harish Gandhin (MP) bt Shravan Motha (Mah) 35-54, 66-36, 76-7, 64-16; Group L: Sandeep Gulatin(Del) bt S.A. Saleem (TN) 49040, 63-42, 70-5.



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