Last time the National Carombole Championship was held,Delhis rising star and the current state Snooker and Billiards champion Pushpender Singh had missed out as he was bed-ridden with jaundice. On Friday,as the third edition of the event got underway at the DDA Sports Complex in Vasant Kunj,the 21-year-old was healthy but seemed far from comfortable as a new format awaited him.
What made things difficult for the Delhi lad was the fact that the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) had upped the difficulty levels this time around. It tweaked the format from one cushion to three cushions to give the participants a taste of what they will face at the Asian Indoor Championships in Vietnam later this year.
However,Pushpender eventually chalked out an easy 11-3 win over Shashi Bhushan Saini in the first match of the day to advance to the second round.
I could only practise for two days to get myself used to this format. It was a big struggle to win the race to five points during practice matches. My friends were joking before that a 5-2 win for me would be great to start off with. But yes,getting to double figures was a bit flattering, Pushpender said.
Saini could only garner his first point around halfway into the match,and though he tried his best to get back in the match,the result was never in question.
Starting off with a point straightaway,Pushpender never looked like losing the game as he pushed forward by his seventh visit to go 7-0 in lead over Saini,who kept missing the points by millimetres.
Pushpender might have had it easy in the first round but bigger tests await him Saturday onwards. If he gets past Haryanas Anil Sharma,he would go head to head against two-time defending national champion Lily on Monday. Looking at the prospect of Lily going for a hat-trick of titles,Pushpender is not ready to take anything for granted.
All of this will happen if I get past Sharma. Of course Lily will be a big match for me,and I know for sure he wants the third straight title but I will do my best, he said.
Last year when the championships were held on a one-cushion format the eventual winner,Dharmendra Lily had outscored Manan Chandra 111-89 for the title. In the opening round on Friday,the contestants struggled to reach even double-digits.
We changed the format because the Vietnam meet will be played on the same rules. Our players would have been caught off-guard so we did this so that they know what to expect there, BSFI vice-president Ravi K Tandon told Sportline on Friday.
Round One results
Pushpender Singh (Delhi) bt Shashi Bhushan Saini (Delhi) 11-3,Vaibhav Sharma (Uttar Pradesh) bt Rishit Jain (Delhi) 8-3,Akshay Kumar (Uttranchal) bt Harpreet Singh (Delhi) 9-4,Yogen Jathi (Uttar Pradesh) bt HS Bhogal (Delhi) 8-4 and SS Anand (Punjab) bt Shrenik Jain (Delhi) 8-3).
Carombole or carom billiards includes several forms of billiards played on a 5×10 feet pocketless tables. The objective of the game is to score points by hitting ones own cue ball off both the opponents cue ball and the target ball on a single shot after touching the sides of the table once (one-cushion) or thrice (three-cushion).