Aditya Mehta was just two shots away from sealing a place for India in the final of the snooker World Cup. Together with Pankaj Advani, the duo were tied at 3-3 in a best-of-seven semi-final against a fancied Scottish outfit. Mehta only needed to sink the final pink and black balls to win the game. He describes the six-point pink as just ‘a few inches short of being unmissable.’ Yet, the world no. 54’s shot wasn’t as clean as he had intended to, resulting in the ball bouncing off the edge of the cushion. Stephen Maguire sunk the pink thereafter, ending India’s unprecedented run at the tournament.
“It was a pressure ball and I landed just a few inches short of unmissable. I just didn’t get through the white and ended up pulling out of the shot. Unfortunately for us it wabbled and went over the opposite corner pocket.” Mehta and Advani had to face Ding’s China ‘A’ side, losing 3-2 in their opening group stage tie.
The Indian pair however came back with resounding 5-0 wins over Norway and Austria, followed by a 3-2 win over Malta to finish the group stages with a 4-1 win over Singapore to reach the quarters, where they comprehensively beat Luca Brecel’s Belgium side 4-1.Scotland was to be the second great hurdle for the Indians, and one too great to overcome. Yet there are positives the pair takes away from the experience.
“There aren’t many events where you get to represent your country. So this is huge, especially since the top players were here,” says Mehta. “And to finish with a bronze medal at a World Cup is a great achievement,” he adds.
A bronze medal nonetheless, was still won by reaching the last four of the world event in Wuxi, China. Since snooker was cut out of the Asian Games, the number of country-based international events has further diminished, in turn increasing the prestige of the World Cup.
Team rosters included 24 two-man teams from all over the globe, with the best from each country representing their respective nation — world no. 1 Mark Selby and current champion Stuart Bingham made the English team, former UK champion Maguire and four-time world champion John Higgins represented the Scots.
Meanwhile, two-time world champion Mark Williams paired up with Indian Open winner Michael White for the Welsh team, and former world No. 1 players Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson played for China and Australia respectively.