Shrikrishna - A youngster on the rise

Shrikrishna has made his mark at the IBSF World Billiards Championship. The 16-year-old toppled seasoned campaigner B. Bhaskar — whom Shrikrishna refers to as ‘Bhaskar uncle’ — to make it to the quarterfinals.

Shrikrishna

Chennai lad Shrikrishna, all of 16, has achieved a rare feat by winning all six events — sub-junior, junior and senior sections in both billiards and snooker — in the Tamil Nadu State championships.   -  K. Murali Kumar

When S. Shrikrishna misses a shot, he turns to the spectator gallery, where his parents are seated. He may be looking for sympathy, but he does not get any. His father and mother stare back with little emotion, even as their son knocks the cue on the floor in frustration.

Chennai lad Shrikrishna, all of 16, settles down quickly, and it is back to playing the game.

“We don’t want to encourage his acts of frustration, so we don't react. But as he cues up to play a bad shot, his mother gets irritated and whispers to me that Shrikrishna is making a mistake. She gets it right every single time,” Shrikrishna’s father, Suryanarayanan, says.

The odd error, however, has not stopped Shrikrishna from making his mark at the IBSF World billiards championship underway here. The teenager toppled seasoned campaigner B. Bhaskar — whom Shrikrishna refers to as ‘Bhaskar uncle’ — to make it to the quarterfinals.

This run has come as another milestone in a fledgling career. Last year, Shrikrishna claimed the gold medal at the IBSF World Under-21 billiards championship, at Adelaide (Australia). A short while after this, he achieved a rare feat by winning all six events — sub-junior, junior and senior sections in both billiards and snooker — in the Tamil Nadu State championships.

It all started at the Mylapore Club, where Suryanarayanan is a member. “At the age of 10, Shrikrishna wanted to play billiards, but the club said that he was too young. He then challenged a member to a game. It was the first time he ever held a cue stick, yet he made a few pots, in-offs and cannons,” Suryanarayanan says.

As time wore on, Shrikrishna’s skill on the green baize was there for all to see. At this juncture, Suryanarayanan made a brave decision. An IIM-Kozhikode graduate, he decided to quit his lucrative corporate career in order to guide Shrikrishna. Suryanarayanan last held a leadership role in CSS Corp, and was the Senior Vice-President at Polaris before that.

Suryanarayanan credits his wife, Gayathri (a former State-level snooker player), for supporting him during his tough phase. “My wife has received advice from so many people - relatives, neighbours. They ask her ‘Why has your husband quit his job? Tell him to go back to work, and tell Shrikrishna to concentrate on his studies’. Gayathri, however, supported me fully,” he says.

This decision has set the family back financially. “We’ve been eating out of our savings. I hope that he gets sponsorship soon to meet our tournament expenses, because that is where we spend most of our money. Wherever he goes, we have to go, as he is too young to travel alone, This is proving to be expensive,” Suryanarayanan, who acts as Shrikishna’s coach, says.

Shrikrishna understands that a lot rides on him. “My parents tell me to just focus on playing the game, and not to think of anything else,” Shrikrishna says.