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Top India players and international stars will vie for honours when curtains go up on the inaugural edition of the Rs 50 lakh Indian Cue Masters League starting in Ahmedabad on Saturday .
The opening tie of the Cue Slam promises to light up the league as Indian billiards and snooker’s poster boy Pankaj Advani leads Chennai Strikers’ charge against Welsh Wizard Andrew Pagett’s Gujarat Kings.
Delhi Dons will take on Bengaluru Buddies in the other encounter tomorrow. “We have a great team and are confident of going all the
way,” Pagett declared, pointing towards Indian stalwarts: former Asian snooker champion Alok Kumar, Brijesh Damani and
The presence of three-time European Ladies Team champion Daria Sirotina from Russia makes it a truly formidable combination.
“We have experience and youth on our side. We will take some beating,” Advani, a 16-time world champion, said. “The skill of veteran Dharminder Lilly and Faisal Khan and the energy of Vidya Pillai and Pandu Rangaiah makes it a perfect mix,” he added.
The seven-day league will see five teams — Delhi Dons, Bengaluru Buddies and Hyderabad Hustlers being the other three — fight it out in an enthralling round-robin cum knockout format.
Each tie will have three 6-Red snooker and two 9-Ball pool matches. Each team boasts of five players (1 icon player, 1 female player and 3 men players, with the stipulation that at least three of them are Indians).
“Cue Slam is a great step forward,” Pagett, who endeared himself to the country’s snooker fans by winning the Indian Open in 2015, said.
“It will take the sport to the masses and I am glad to be a part of the home team,” he added.
“India has been waiting for a League like this. I am happy to see that it is taking off, that too with so many top players in fray,” Pankaj said.
The opening day’s second tie between Bengaluru and Delhi is expected to be equally fascinating. Bengaluru Buddies have roped in one of the biggest names in the sport, Darren Morgan, who will be joined by Anastasia Nechaeva from Russia and the Indian trio of Laxman Rawat, Varun Madan and Sandeep Gulati.
Delhi Dons, on the other hand, will be captained by six-time World Snooker and seven-time European Champion Kelly Fisher. The British player has Wales’ Laura Evans and India’s Malkeet Singh, Manan Chandra and Pushpender Singh to muster up a fight for her team.
The Hyderabad Hustlers will launch their campaign against the Gujarat Lions on Sunday.