India’s best cueist Pankaj Advani, the recent winner of the Asian Snooker Championship and World 6-Red Snooker crowns, will be the star attraction in the World Snooker Qualifiers, a National Selection Tournament, to be held here from October 17 to 27, 2021.
The Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) selection tournament will comprise three events for men, women and boys under-21. The eight elite cueists in all three categories will be in action and the top two players from each category, at the end of the round-robin league format in the 11-day tournament, will make it to the Indian team.
According to India coach Ashok Shandilya, the competition is expected to be tough as only the top two players from each category will qualify to represent the country in the World Snooker Championship to be played in Doha, either in November or December as the dates are not yet finalised.
India No. 2 Advani clinched his 24th World title by winning the 6-Red Snooker World Cup in Doha, Qatar, last month and had earlier retained his Asian Snooker title, also played in the Gulf city. He is the firm favourite to finish at the top in the selection event and confirm his place in the Indian team.
The 36-year-old Padma Bhushan recipient Advani (PSPB) will face a strong challenge from Indian No. 1 and current National champion and compatriot Aditya Mehta. The other strong contenders in the fray are Laxman Rawat (PSPB ), Pushpender Singh (RSPB), Dhvaj Haria (PSPB), Varun Madan (Delhi), Himanshu Jain (Telangana), and Neeraj Kumar (RSPB).
Meanwhile, India No. 1 and reigning National champion Vidya Pillai (Karnataka) and India No. 2 Amee Kamani (Madhya Pradesh) will spearhead the field in the women’s competition. Varsha Sanjeev (Tamil Nadu), Anupama Ramchandran (Tamil Nadu), Arantxa Sanchis (Maharashtra), Chitra M. (Karnataka), Keerath Bhandaal (Delhi), and Suniti Damani (West Bengal) are the other cueists in the women’s competition.
A qualifying tournament for Men under-21 would also be conducted from October 25 to 27. National champion Digvijay Kadian of Haryana and runner-up S. Shrikrishna (PSPB) will be the top contenders, while Sparsh Pherwani (Mah), Aman Bansod (MP), Kreish Gurbaxani (Mah), Aadesh Kothari (TN), Vishwajeet Mohan (UP), and Sumehr Mago (Mah) will complete the line-up.
The participating players:
Men: Aditya Mehta (PSPB), Pankaj Advani (PSPB), Laxman Rawat (PSPB), Pushpender Singh (RSPB), Dhvaj Haria (PSPB), Varun Madan (DEL), Himanshu Jain (TEL), Neeraj Kumar (RSPB).
Women: Vidya Pillai (KTK), Amee Kamani (MP), Varsha Sanjeev (TN), Anupama R. (TN), Arantxa Sanchis (MAH), Chitra M. (KTK), Keerath Bhandaal (DEL), Suniti Damani (WB).
U-21: Digvijay Kadian (Har), S. Shrikrishna (PSPB), Sparsh Pherwani (Mah), Aman Bansod (MP), Kreish Gurbaxani (Mah), Aadesh Kothari (TN), Vishwajeet Mohan (UP), Sumehr Mago (Mah).