ONGC, BPCL to contest billiards team final

S. Shrikrishna and Manan Chandra posted wins for BPCL.

Numaligarh Refinery Limited players: Pankaj Roy and Syed Tazuddin Ali Ahmed

India’s sub-junior and junior national champion in billiards and snooker, S. Shrikrishna gave a roaring start to BPCL’s semi-final campaign against Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in the billiards team championship of the 14th BPCL PSPB Inter-Unit Billiards and Snooker Championship at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Tuesday.

In a single-game set to 200 points, the 17-year-old Chennai-based Shrikrishna surprised CCI Open Snooker winner and IOC’s Brijesh Damani 200-53. Shrikrishna made two half century breaks to win his game with ease. After Shrikrishna gave a winning start, Delhi-based Manan Chandra got the better of Dhvaj Haria 202-73 for BPCL to enter the final where it will be pitted against the defending champion ONGC.

Read: Advani among top cueists at PSPB tournament

ONGC chose Pankaj Advani and Alok Kumar to play the first two games against GAIL and in about an hour’s time the two champion players recorded good wins against Ishpreet Singh Chadha and Asutosh Padhy.

A group of onlookers, as Advani went about his business in clinical fashion, were the players who have come here to represent debutant Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), which lost 0-2 to IOC in the quarter-finals. Majority of them are engineers who play billiards as a pastime and not trained to compete against the country's seasoned players. They get a chance to play in a separate tournament for amateurs in the open category.

Two among the NRL boys are Pankaj Roy, a chemical engineer and Syed Tazuddin Ali Ahmed, an electrical engineer. "Our job at the refinery gives us little time for practice. When were all bachelor boys we used to play billiards at the NRL officers’ club till 2 AM. Once we all got married, nine of us, the visit to the Club became less frequent. But there is another reason for people in the NRL not taking up billiards or snooker. Around 30 people play tennis because there is lot of physical activity and for health reasons. We don’t burn calories playing billiards,’’ said Tazuddin Ali.

Both Roy and Ali said they have come here to establish contact with some players, request them to come to Numaligarh to conduct a coaching programme. "We don’t have a coach. The table at the Club is 20 years old and the cloth has been changed only once. A person who runs a snooker parlour told us that the table is beyond repair now. We want to change all that. The billiards room has almost become a store room. We get upset seeing flower pots and other things in the room and sometimes even on the table,’’ said Ali.

The NRL team made a fine impression wearing long-sleeve shirts and a metal badge making prominent the oil company they represent. And of course they were thrilled to see Advani in action. "We like to play only billiards, not snooker. But since we have come here, we will play snooker also,’’ said happy looking Roy and Ali.

Results:

Team Billiards

Semi-finals: ONGC bt GAIL 2-0: Pankaj Advani bt Ishpreet Chadda 208 (124) - 66; Alok Kumar bt Ashutosh Padhy 200 (81,67) - 44; BPCL bt Indian Oil 2-0 ( S. Shrikrishna bt Brijesh Damani 200 (63,57) -53; Manan Chandra bt Dhvaj Haria 202 (61) -73 (57)

Quarter-finals: BPCL bt MRPL 2-0 (Manan Chandra bt Atish Shrivastav  201-25; S. Shrikrishna bt J.P Shetty 200-38 ); GAIL bt OIL India 2-0 (Ashitosh Padhy bt A. Kamalpuri 200-50; Ishpreet Chadda bt Tulan Baruha 200 (94) -88); Indian Oil bt NRL 2-0 (Brijesh Damani bt Pankaj Roy 201-51; Dhvaj Haria bt Syed Tazuddin Ali Ahmed 200 (94)-10)