Aditya Mehta slugged it out against Alan McManus for 9 hours-9 minutes in his second round qualification match of the World Championship at Sheffield,lost 10-9 on match-ball against the snooker pro with over 20 years experience. The loss left him too paralysed for the customary handshake with his Scottish opponent. A day later,the 27-year-old went a little easy on himself as he recalled his exit from the tournament with the hallowed Crucible remaining as elusive as ever for Indians.
In his third outing in attempting to qualify for the Worlds,to earn a chance to play the Worlds Top 16 over 19 gruelling frames,the Mumbai pro had acknowledged that the best way to deal with this grief of losing on the last ball,was by telling himself that hed done well to get himself into that situation of 9-frames all,in the first place.
I gave it my everything. Obviously I have a lot to learn and couldnt cope with his tactical game. But Ill take heart from the fact that after everything he threw at me I could work up some sort of a plan and how well I recovered from 9-7 down to going upto being one ball away from victory, Mehta said,looking back on that moment when his white landed in such a way that of the choice of three colours,two were unavailable and one was difficult.
I had to try,but there was no certainty. And after almost 10 hours it didnt go my way. It hurts,but you learn your lessons, he added after he couldnt make the most of the chance to win the decider from 36-0 down,after he was stalled on 46 and McManus cleared from yellow to pink with an audibly relieved sigh.
Mehtas plan while countering perhaps the sturdiest of tactical players on the circuit was trying to make it more open and attacking. And he succeeded to a large extent as he first led 6-4,then stayed level till 7-all,and with his opponent one frame away from winning at 9-7,piled frustration onto McManus by snatching the next two frames in defiance to drag this to the decider.
I could figure out with my coach by my side just the right way to play against these seasoned pros. In fact I found the ideal rhythm and zone that I should play in,and made him pay for his mistakes, he says of the master rallyer who was forced to scavenge for his points until the century-break in the 16th frame that gave him immense confidence. It was a big boost for him,but I could still put him under pressure, Mehta said,as he fought off dying of the fading light.
Ranked only in the 70s against former Masters champion McManus,twice a semi-finalist at the Crucible and pickled in playing such tense situations,it had been a draining encounter for Mehta. He dragged every frame to 40-50 and used all his experience and tactical prowess to prolong the match and tire me out, he said.
But its an experience I know will help me at some later point.
Compatriot Pankaj Advani too had been similarly stretched in a 10-8 loss against similarly seasoned Joe Swail,a day earlier.