Mumbai: World professional champion Pankaj Advani and compatriot Geet Sethi have been given byes straight into the prequarter-finals of the Asian Games billiards championship at Guangzhou, China next month.
The two Indian cue aces have been placed at the opposite ends of the draw as the no. 1 and 2 seeds and would not meet each other before the gold medal clash.
Advani, who has left for Leeds in England to defend his world crown, would also be defending the gold medal he won four years ago in the Asian quadrennial extravaganza at Doha, Qatar and would meet either Do Hoang Quan of Vietnam or Ricky Yang of Indonesia in his first tie.
A victory will set up a tough quarter final for Advani against veteran Thai cueist C Praprut who is expected to down Reynaldo Grandea of the Philippines in his opener.
Sethi, who is a multiple time world champion in the three-ball green baize game and has also departed for Leeds, would also be up against a preliminary round winner (either Myanmar’s Oo Nay Thway or Thanh Long Nguyen (Vietnam) for a berth in the last eight.
Tall England-born player Peter Gilchrist, of Singapore, looms as a major threat for Sethi at the semi final stage where both are expected to reach.
Advani will also be participating in the snooker singles event along with fellow-Indian Aditya Mehta.
In the snooker team event, India have been given a bye into the 16-strong main draw. A total of 24 countries would be vying for the medals in the team championship. No team event has been scheduled for billiards.
Vijay Goel and Dharmender Singh Lilly have entered in 3-cushion carrom singles and Alok Kumar and Sumit Talwar in 8-ball pool singles while Alok and Manan Chandra have entered for the 9-ball pool singles competition.
In the women’s section, Vidya Pillai and Chitra Magimairajan entered in 6-red snooker singles and would also do duty in the team event.
Indira Gowda, Neeta Sanghvi (women’s 8-ball pool singles), Neena Praveen and Meenal Thakur (women’s 9-ball pool) have also entered for the Games competitions.
The Asian Games are scheduled from November 12-27 and the cue sports will be held from 14-20.