SPORT

Yasin, Manan post contrasting wins

Yasin Merchant of Maharashtra in action against Delhi's Rishab Thukral in the 68th National snooker championship at the Sports Club of Gujarat on Sunday. - Photo: Paras Shah

Yasin Merchant of Maharashtra in action against Delhi's Rishab Thukral in the 68th National snooker championship at the Sports Club of Gujarat on Sunday. - Photo: Paras Shah  

AHMEDABAD, JAN. 20. Defending champion Yasin Merchant and junior titlist Manan Chandra scored contrasting wins in their last league matches and cruised into the pre-quarterfinals as group leaders, in the 68th National snooker championship at the Sports Club of Gujarat here on Sunday.

Even as Merchant authored a convincing 4-0 win against Delhi's Rishab Thukral, the Maharashtra cueist seemed restrained. The Asian champion let down an expectant audience as big breaks were at a premium. If Merchant was more creative, Thukral managed to stay on and forced the former pro to fight for every frame.

The maximum break Merchant could garner was 52 and though the eventual score-line gave an impression of a one-sided contest, young Thukral did considerably well against an accomplished cueist with his safety play.

In the knockout phase, Merchant was handed a tricky opponent. He will have to negotiate seasoned Shyam Jagtiani of Railways in the top half of the draw. There will be no respite though for Merchant in the next round also. Asian Games gold medallist Ashok Shandilya would be the possible challenger, in the quarterfinals.

For the Junior National champion Manan, lack of match practice during the past week had a telling effect on his performance. With three players from his group giving a miss to the tournament, Manan has had the chance of playing just one league match. Against Shankar Rao of Andhra Pradesh, Manan seemed a bit rusty. He, however, caught up nicely and defeated Rao 4-2.

Former champion Alok Kumar, leading the bottom half, has a comparative easy route to the final. Alok defeated Amit Saboo 4-1 for his fifth straight win and later drew Rafat Habib of Railways as a opponent in the pre-quarterfinals. Next, he will either face S.A. Saleem of Tamil Nadu or B.V.S. Murthy of Karnataka.

The results:

Preliminary league: Group A: Yasin Merchant (Mah) bt Rishab Thukral (Del) 72-16, 74-41, 63-37, 59- 40; Kamal Chawla (MP) bt Richard Swing (UP) 44-60, 53-15, 64-42, 35-60, 55-12, 66-48.

Group B: Alok Kumar (Pun) bt Amit Saboo (Mah) 76-14, 66-38, 51-29, 53-68, 72-61; Neeraj Kumar (Bih) bt Dinesh Kukrreja (HP) 48-58, 58-66, 45-33, 68-32, 50-36, 55-22; Jaswinder Singh (Raj) bt Pradeep (AP) 98-26, 61-40, 73-22, 31-59, 59-43. Rupesh Shah (Guj) bt Pankaj Advani (Kar) 73-54, 24-55, 60-19, 61-52, 52-61, 62-21.

Group C: Sanjiv Gupta (J and K) bt Mohd. Naeem (UP) 55-42, 47-35, 43-59, 67-48, 57-5; Atul Chomal (Raj) w.o Sunny Bhalla (Har).

Group D: Manan Chandra (Del) bt Shankar Rao (AP) 73-31, 59-9, 44-57, 19-66, 80-33, 46-16.

Group E: Omar Balsara (Mah) bt S. A. Saleem (TN) 26-93, 52-8, 61-29, 59-48, 74-1; Pamin Shah (Guj) bt Harpreet Singh (Ori) 100-0, 50-25, 62-14, 66-58; Siddharth Anand (Del) w.o Samar Bhalla (Har).

Group F: Dharminder Lilly (Pun) bt A. Haque (Ori) 51-50, 59-4, 94-16, 61-42; Sandeep Duggal (Chg) bt Kamal Rahmetra (J and K) 83-46, 52-41, 43-58, 54-51, 61-9.

Group G: B.V.S. Murthy (Kar) bt Md. Asim (Ben) 73-32, 85-33, 62-14, 70-40; Joy Mehra (Pun) bt Md. Asim (Ben) 66-42, 55-35, 69-38, 20-82, 51-88, 45-85, 64-50.

Group H: Ashok Shandilya (Rly) bt S.A. Faheem (TN) 41-79, 55-12, 56-6, 65-8, 43-60, 79-16; Harish Gandhi (MP) bt Harpreet Singh (HP) 117-9, 24-52, 95-47, 77-21, 58-40.

Junior billiards: Second round: Pankaj Advani (Kar) bt Nitin Agarwal (MP) 786-361.

First round: Nitin Agarwal (MP) bt Rakesh Sanghani (Kar) 527-278; Ravish Surti (Guj) w.o Kamal Deep Singh (Del); Kuldip Chowdhury (J and K) w.o Sumit Talwar (Chg); Vinay Katrela (Kar) w.o Aman Bhasin (Har).

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