Silverware for Indian team in Asian Snooker Championship

New Delhi: Before the Indian trio of Brijesh Damani, Alok Kumar and Manan Chandra had set foot in the Qatari capital for the inaugural Asian Team Snooker Championship, they had made a promise to themselves that nothing short of silverware would suffice.

On a balmy evening in Doha yesterday, they fulfilled the promise when they triumphed 3-0 over Iran in the summit clash to win the USD 4,500 prize money tourney.

"It`s just an amazing feeling to win the tournament where all the Asian countries participated. A total of 14 entries were there from Asia. It was a tough competition especially because of its shorter format. There was a lot of pressure on us throughout the tournament but we held our nerves," Alok Kumar told PTI from Doha after the final.

"Our first match in the tournament was very close against Saudi Arabia where we were 0-2 down against them. We won that match and since then, there was no looking back. Manan played really well and Brijesh complimented him with his precise play. It was a team effort and we are happy to have won it," he said.

The Indian cueists were in red-hot form right from the start and topped their group with three wins from as many games. After the group stages, India were the only team to remain undefeated. Pakistan, China and Thailand finished on top of their respective groups but suffered a defeat each.

India had little obstruction in clinching gold as they had outplayed Qatar 3-1 in the quarterfinals, beat Afghanistan 3-1 in the semifinals before registering a clean sweep against Iran scoring 61-49 (Single against Amir Sarkhosh); 58-16 (Single against Ehsan Heydarinezha ); and 63-55 (double against Amir and Ehsan), last night.

Talking about the final, Alok said it was not as easy for the Indians as the scoreline suggests.

"Manan had a close first game where he just managed to brush aside the challenge of his opponent. Though Brijesh won the second game comfortably 58-16 but he gave away some easy chances to his rival to score points. We then won the doubles 63-55. We won on the pink ball. It was an interesting final," said Alok, the senior most member of the side said.

"It was a short format tournament. You have two singles, then one doubles, then two reverse singles if required. It`s more like a Davis Cup. Every match was of only one frame. That puts a lot of pressure on every player. If you win two singles and then the doubles, you won 3-0," Alok added.

He said it wasn`t easy for them to get acclimatised to the tournament`s favourite in short span of time.

"It`s for the first time a Team championship took place in Asia. In snooker, it`s not easy to win as billiards is our strong forte. Winning in Snooker is always good. We did not have enough time to adjust to the tables but after playing couple of matches, we were comfortable with the tables after the first day.

"It was difficult for us to get adjusted to the format. You were always on your toes. If you could not clear the table in one go, then there`s every possibility that your opponent will settle the issue in his favour. In this format, you quickly need to change your style of play. We won all the doubles matches for that matter," he said.

Laxman Singh Rawat, who lost in the semi-finals to Pakistan`s Muhammad Asif 2-6, and Shivam Arora, were the two Indian players who competed in the 6-Red Asian individual championship.

Laxman settled for bronze medal after losing his semis to Asif.

The championship brought together 37 players representing 16 Asian nations.