Thursday, 23 August 2012

Here come the Indians

Yestarday was a day to remember for Indian snooker.

Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani both reached their first professional ranking venue - and with it did a country proud.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Snooker was invented in India back in 1875 (source: Snooker Scene), but the nation has only had a handful of stellar moments to look back on in the sport since then.

Yasin Merchant is currently the most successful professional Indian player in history having three times qualified for the last 32 of ranking events between 1991 and 2001.

But Mehta and Advani's rise to stardom and securing places at the International Championship venue is a wonderful moment for the nation where the game began.

It's difficult for any emerging snooker nation to get credit in an era where China are widely believed to be leading the way when it comes to the future of the game.

But while India's only two professionals managed to navigate their way through four qualifying matches to reach the inaugural International Championship, only Cao Yupeng from China's contingent of stars on tour could join automatic qualifier Ding Junhui there.

This is a significant achievement for both Advani and Mehta and I can't help but share their delight.

Pankaj is currently playing in his debut season on tour. The former world billiards champion has already proved he's a master cueman and is having a crack at professional snooker courtesy of reaching the Asian Championship final.

Picture by Monique Limbos
He has already embraced the online world of Twitter and frantically retweeted messages of praise after his 6-4 win against Michael Holt sealed his triumph. He seems a genuine bloke riding the crest of turning professional.

Aditya has been around a little while longer. He first turned professional in 2008 but fell off before returning in 2011. Since returning, his game has come on leaps and bounds. He's improved in every department and his temperament is up there with some of the best.

His desire to win and positive attitude towards playing is infectious and you can't do anything but back him when he plays. He's been knocking on the door of a major venue for a while now, but finally made it with victory against Jamie Cope.

To see Advani and Mehta reach a key milestone in their snooker careers together makes this moment even more special. And anyone who thinks these lads have come through the easy way, in one of the season's minor events, can think again.

This brand new International Championship has a total prize pot of £600,000 up for grabs and a stonking £125,000 will go to the winner. It is already easily the biggest ranking event hosted in China and with the slightly longer matches, it could quickly become one of the majors, to rival even the UK Championship.

As the tournament begins to enjoy its own great moments, the stock of this tournament will grow. The Indian duo can look forward to playing in a tournament guaranteed huge viewing figures worldwide. This means they have officially announced themselves on the scene.

If they can continue the feelgood factor that surrounds them, who knows, maybe we'll end up seeing ranking snooker in India not too far down the line.

Well played lads, and good luck at the venue.

No comments:

Post a Comment