Mumbai: Aditya Mehta of PSPB played with controlled aggression and knocked out reigning champion Sourav Kothari also of PSPB by charging to a 7-3 (79-14, 27-59, 54-59, 99-16, 72-5, 74-24, 86-7, 45-83, 94-4, and 70-38) win in the best-of-13-frame semi-final match of the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) organised ‘Baulkline’ NSCI Rs 13 lakh prize-money All India Snooker Open 2023, played at the NSCI billiards hall.
In the second semi-final, last edition runner-up Laxman Rawat and Indian No. 2 Sparsh Pherwani of Mumbai were locked in an absorbing battle for supremacy. Rawat did well to handle the pressure and struck a match-winning break of 80 to pocket the deciding frame to clinch a hard-fought 7-6 (36-91, 68-60, 43-70, 78-0, 62-96, 78-29, 5-70, 77-22, 77-39, 91-0, 23-67, 19-92, and 97-15) verdict to advance to his second successive final.
Both Rawat and Sparsh lacked consistency and played well only in patches and there were not too many substantial breaks in the match. Rawat’s first decent effort was a 51 in the sixth and he followed it with breaks of 67 in the eighth, another 51 in the tenth and signed off with a neat 80 in the decider to clinch the issue. Pherwani was more consistent with his pot and started with 51 to pocket the first frame and followed it with a 60 in the second which he went on to lose. He had two more runs of 61 in the fifth and 63 in the 12th frame to level the scores at 6-all.
In contrast, the Mumbai-based Mehta was fluent with his shots and compiled three notable breaks. He had an unfinished run of 81 in the fourth, a 67 in the sixth and finished with a high 94 in winning the ninth before winning the 10th to close out the match. Kothari’s best efforts were 58 in winning a tight second frame and 61 in the eighth frame.
The lanky Mehta was satisfied with his play and the win. “It was a bad start to be honest. I don't think I started very well. I was a little edgy, and not quite positive enough. After losing the third frame on the black, it gave me a little kick and I just felt like, I am not going to win this match playing like this. I need to be a little more positive, more aggressive, score heavier and fortunately it kind of started to come together and then I started to put a lot of pressure on Sourav with my long game, break building, and my safety was on point. All in all I am pleased with the way it ended,” a relaxed Mehta said.
“I was pretty clear of what I was trying to do, I think the shot selection was coming to me a lot easier because I had a game plan, I know, I am not the type to go for silly shots. When I am choosing a shot I know that there is value in it, whether it’s a difficult one or there is no value in it. I am pretty comfortable with the way I played. I think it’s just about executing, you know you can think all the right things, but you have to execute it as well and you just hope that on the day you are able to execute what your plans are,” Mehta further mentioned.
Results - Semi-finals: Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt Sourav Kothari (PSPB) 7-3 (79-14, 27-59(58), 54-59, 99(81*)-16, 72-5, 74(67)-24, 86-7, 45-83(61), 94(94)-4, 70-38).
Laxman Rawat (PSPB) bt Sparsh Pherwani 7-6 (36-91(51), 68-60(60), 43-70, 78-0, 62-96(61), 78(51)-29, 5-70, 77(67)-22, 77-39, 91(51)-0, 23-67, 19-92(63), 97(80)-15).
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