Manudev wins snooker championship opener


Chennai: Qualifier I.H. Manudev of Karnataka, the 35-year old former junior national champion, pulled off a fine 4-3 win against Siddharth Rao of Tamil Nadu in the opening Group A league match of the Rs 5.2 lakh VIP Matrix All-India invitational snooker tournament here Saturday.

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Manudev, returning to the sport after nearly a decade in oblivion since winning the junior national snooker title in 1995, was a trifle fortunate to pull through against Rao, a Chennai-based IT professional.

Opening the match with a break of 75 in the first frame, Manudev turned rather inconsistent even as Rao got into his stride. After swapping the next three frames, Rao, who hardly practices in view of his flourishing career, took a 3-2 lead and looked certain to wrap up the match but a miss on the blue allowed Manudev back into the contest.

Manudev, who made it to the round of 32 at the last month’s World championships in Hyderabad, took the blue and pink. Both players had a couple of visits for the black that Rao eventually sold after a bad safety shot. Manudev sank the last colour to make it 3-3.

In the decider, the Bangalore-based Manudev, aided by small breaks early in the frame, took a firm grip on the match and eventually ran out victor.

“It was pretty close right through and Siddharth’s miss on the blue in the sixth frame helped me out. He played well though he was obviously out of touch,” said a relieved Manudev who next takes on favourite and reigning national champion Pankaj Advani in the next match.

“I last met Pankaj in a match in 1998 during the State ranking tournament and I beat him then. But he has come a long way since those days,” said Manudev, looking ahead to his next encounter slated for Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, another qualifier, Sridhar from Andhra Pradesh, got past local challenger Dilip Kumar 4-3 in a marathon match while veterans, S.A. Saleem and Rafath Habib, both from Chennai, won their respective outings.

The results (preliminary league):

Group A: IH Manudev (Karnataka) bt Siddhartha Rao (Tamil Nadu) 4-3. Group B: Varun Kumar (Tamil Nadu) bt Vijay Nichani (Tamil Nadu) 4-0. Group C: Sridhar (Andhra Pradesh) bt Dilip Kumar (PSPB) 4-3. Group D: Prem Prakash (Tamil Nadu) bt Jagan Williams (Tamil Nadu) 4-2. Group E: SA Saleem (Tamil Nadu) bt Faisal Khan (Railways) 4-3. Group F: Rafath Habib (Tamil Nadu) bt Imran Ganj (Tamil Nadu) 4-1.