Indian cueists confident of good show in Asian Games

New Delhi : Former World Professional champion Pankaj Advani and legendary Geet Sethi are confident of a good show by the Indian cueists in this month`s Asian Games in China and said the contingent will look to double its medal count this year.

In the Doha Asian Games, apart from Advani`s gold medal in Billiards singles category, Ashok Shandilya had won a silver in Billiards singles while in the Snooker team event,
the country had won a bronze medal. Sethi and Shandilya won a bronze in the billiards doubles event.

In the last three months beginning August, most of the men`s players, part of the 17-member (men and women) squad for the Ghungzhou Games, featured in the series of tournaments including IBSF World Billiards Championship in Pune, Indian National Billiards and Snooker Championship, also in Pune, and more recently in the World Professional Billiards Championship in Leeds, UK.

The Indian cueists also sweat it out at the final conditioning camp in Bangalore that began on October 20, with two international coaches England`s Derek Del Hill (snooker)
and Filipino Jorge C Dacer (pool), indulging in some rigorous training schedule.

The coaches were roped in for a fortnight by the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India to brighten country`s medal prospects in the snooker and pool disciplines

"There is lot of pressure in the Asian Games as our sport is played on a knockout basis. You need to be mentally strong to change your gameplan according to the situation warranted," Advani told PTI.

"After the World championship, the next big challenge is Asian Games and I am hopeful of repeating my earlier success at this edition of the Games. I am confident that the Indian cueists will perform well at the event," said the national Snooker champion Advani.

Green baize baron Sethi said the just-concluded World professional championship will hold the Indian cueists in good stead at the Asian Games.

"The (world pro) championship just before the Asian Games has helped us prepare better. It`s good to organise it before the Asian Games where the field comprises of some good green baize experts. Looking forward to the challenge ahead," Sethi said.

Advani and Sethi attended just three days of the camp owing to their participation in the World Pro Championship at Leeds.

Before leaving for Leeds, Advani had said, "This conditioning camp will help us prepare better for the event and increase our country`s medal tally. We have got a real boost with the arrival of snooker coach Hill. He is just fabulous with his technique. His knowledge will definitely going to help us in snooker event."

Member of the Asian Games selection committee and Team manager to China, Ravi Tandon said players are a confident lot and benefitted much from the conditioning camp.

"We are hopeful that this time our female players will also come out with flying colours. We are hoping to win medals in ladies six-red snooker and pool disciplines apart from our main forte -- billiards and snooker," said Tandon, former vice-president of BSFI and currently associated with the federation as an Advisor.

"The management is very optimistic that the Indian contingent will double its medal tally this year from the previous edition of the Games in 2006," added Tandon.

The BSFI had a series of selection camps since April before naming the squad for the quadrennial event. These selected 17 will lock horns with the best cueists in the

Advani and Sethi will spearhead India`s challenge in the billiards category. Advani will also feature in the Snooker singles event along with Aditya Mehta.

Dharminder Lilly and Vijay Goel will represent the country in Carom 3-cushion singles while Aditya Mehta, Yasin Merchant and Brijesh Damani will be seen in the Snooker team event.

8-ball pool singles feature Sumit Talwar and Alok Kumar and 9-ball pool singles will have Alok Kumar and Manan Chandra.

Vidya Pillai and Chitra Magimairaj will take part in the 6-reds snooker women`s singles while Anuja Chandra will join the above two in 6-red snooker team event.

8-ball pool women`s singles will have Indira Gowda and Neeta Sanghvi while 9-ball pool singles feature Meenal Thakur and Neena Praveen.

Indian coaches Sanjay Sawant (snooker), Mukesh Rehani (pool) and Manoj Kothari (billiards) will be fine tuning the skills of selected cueists and strengthening their mental

The squad: Men: Billiards singles: Pankaj Advani, Geet Sethi; Snooker singles: P Advani, Aditya Mehta; Snooker team: A Mehta, Brijesh Damani, Yasin Merchant; 8-ball pool singles: Sumit Talwar, Alok Kumar; 9-ball pool singles: A Kumar, Manan Chandra; Carom 3-cushion singles: Dharminder Lilly, Vijay Goel.

Women: 6-reds snooker singles: Vidya Pillai, Chitra Magimairaj; 6-red snooker team: Vidya P, Chitra M, Anuja Chandra; 8-ball pool singles: Indira Gowda, Neeta Sanghvi;
9-ball pool singles: Meenal Thakur, Neena Praveen.