Advani, Gilchrist lead World Billiards C'ship lineup

While Pankaj Advani is the most decorated player in the World Billiards Championship lineup, he could be hampered by his lack of preparation. He enters the tournament after spending considerable time on the snooker circuit, and could therefore take a couple of matches to get into the groove.

pankaj advani

Indian cueists Pankaj Advani (left) and Rupesh Shah at the inauguration of IBSF World Billiards Championship 2016 at Karnataka State Billiards Association.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Pankaj Advani and Peter Gilchrist lead the field in the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) World Billiards Championship, which commences at Karnataka State Billiards Association (KSBA) here on Monday.

While Advani is the most decorated player in the mix, he could be hampered by his lack of preparation for this event. The 31-year-old enters this tournament after spending considerable time on the snooker circuit, and could therefore take a couple of matches to get into the groove. Advani has, however, tackled this challenge on several occasions in the past.

Gilchrist carries a big reputation as well. The England-born Singapore cueist holds the record for the highest break in tournament play(1,346 at the 2007 New Zealand Open). Gilchrist defeated Advani in the points format final in 2015 IBSF world championship, a few days before Advani reversed the result in the time format summit clash.

Dhruv Sitwala (2015 and 2016 Asian billiards champion), Sourav Kothari (2014 Asian billiards champion), Rupesh Shah (two-time world champion), Soheil Vahedi (IBSF World snooker champion) and Robert Hall are some of the other big names.

Vahedi, who only recently took to billiards, said, "I'm trying out billiards as it helps my snooker game. Billiards teaches you how to play good safety shots."

A total of 22 players - slotted in four groups - will take part in the long-up format, which starts on Monday. The top four from each group will advance to the last-16 knockout round. The final will be held on Thursday. The points format fixtures begins on the following day.

GROUPINGS (Indians unless mentioned):

Long-up format:-

Group A: Pankaj Advani, Akhilesh Mohan (France), Soheil Vahedi (Iran), Rupesh Shah, Shankar Rao.

Group B: Peter Gilchrist (Singapore), Dhvaj Haria, Alok Kumar, Ben Judge (Australia), Siddharth Parikh.

Group C: Sourav Kothari, Devendra Joshi, B. Bhaskar, Robert Hall (England), Ajeya Prabhakar (USA), Aung Htay (Myanmar).

Group D: Dhruv Sitwala, S. Shrikrishna, Nalin Patel (England), Sasan Lashkari (Iran), Jaiveer Dhingra, Chit Ko Ko (Myanmar).