Advani carries Indian medal hopes in Vietnam

World champion to lead cueists' challenge

From left: Karnataka cueists Indira Gowda, Pankaj Advani and Chitra Magimairaj strike a pose before leaving for the Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam.

The Karnataka trio of Advani, Chitra Magimairaj and Indira Gowda are among 14 cueists in the National squad which will leave for Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday morning.
Refreshed following time away from the sport after his billiards-snooker double at the Agra Nationals, Advani said he was looking forward to the major event.

“It’s a huge responsibility to lead the team. I know a lot of hopes are pinned on me, but I’m only human,” Advani said on Tuesday. “I am very confident following my recent performances, but I have not forced myself to practice too much.”

Advani, who will be taking part in billiards, snooker and recent rage 6-red snooker, was realistic when he spoke of India’s chances.

“We are certainly a force to reckon with, but the competition is good, too. That it’s a knockout tournament makes things harder. We should be able to bring home four to five medals,” said the seven-time world champion. Former world ladies billiards champion Chitra looked to draw inspiration from her runner-up performance at the recently concluded Australian Open women’s snooker championship after a disappointing show at the Agra Nationals.

“The quaterfinal defeat at the snooker Nationals is something I would like to lock up in my closet,” said Chitra. “Post Australia, I will be taking a lot of positives into this tournament.”

Chitra will take part in 6-red snooker. “The South East Asian competition is something we will watch out for, but my biggest challenge should be Vidya Pillai. I hope I don’t get to face her before the final. I’m glad to be taking part in snooker, I prefer it to pool anyday.”
The 32-year-old Indira was the surprise package at the Nationals by making the 9-ball pool quarterfinals, and her consistency at the selection trials earned her a spot in the national squad.

“I have been working hard on my game, I have learnt a lot in the past couple of months,” said Indira. “There is a lot of pressure on me to perform but I’m focused and will give it my best.

“I am mentally prepared to face all the hurdles but there is no guarantee for success in a tournament of this nature,” she added.

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