Mehta, Alok enter snooker final

August 9th, 2011 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 9 (IANS) Aditya Mehta and Alok Kumar came through their respective semi-final matches in contrasting styles to set up an intriguing final in the 78th Senior National snooker championship here Tuesday.

Mehta outplayed a tentative I.H. Manudev of Karnataka 5-0 and Alok Kumar scraped past 5-3 against a fighting Neeraj Kumar (Railways) in the semi-finals.

The best-of-11 final between the two Petroleum Sports Promotion Board players is scheduled for 3 p.m. later Tuesday.

Neither match rose to any great heights. While 25-year old Mehta rode on his experience of playing on the professional circuit in the past two years to subdue Manudev, veteran Alok Kumar, the 2007 champion, enjoyed generous slices of luck while putting out the 31-year old Neeraj, who like the other vanquished, was playing in his first semi-final in the championship.

Mehta, who had posted two century breaks in the quarter-finals Monday, was not really at his best, but made every visit to the table count with a run of 53 in the third frame being his best effort.

“It is not every day that you can score a century, but I was more focused on consistency and score points at every opportunity. I did not play all that well, but I am happy that I am in the final for the second time since 2008 when I lost to Pankaj Advani and am keen on winning the one title that I dearly want,” said Mehta.

The 36-year old Manudev, on his part, was all but invisible as his challenge was rather tepid and barely got going, missing sitters and guilty of playing loose safety shots.

“I never got going today. It was not that I was nervous playing my first ever semi-final in the championship, but Aditya played better snooker today,” said the Bangalorean.

In contrast, the other semi-final was rather scrappy. Alok, who has been struggling all through the tournament, and yet managing to defeat defending champion Pankaj Advani on Monday, played well in patches.

The 42-year old from Punjab, winner of the virtually every title in all formats of cue sport, leaned heavily on his vast experience to scramble past Neeraj who paid dearly for his lapses.

After losing the first frame, Alok won the next four for a 4-1 advantage. But Neeraj clawed his way back to take two frames on the trot, aided by fluked green and a clearance in the seventh.

The Bihar player had his chances in the eighth too when he had Alok in a bind, only to miss the last pink. A relieved Alok potted the colour to close the match.

The results (semi-finals):

Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt IH Manudev (Kar) 5-0: 65-05, 67-12, 79-6, 70-34, 64-16; Alok Kumar (PSPB) bt Neeraj Kumar (Railways) 5-3: 34-86, 78-40, 75-10, 74-16, 56-50, 36-63, 55-63, 61-49.

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