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At home, expectations are high: Pankaj Advani

Hyderabad: When the £ 300,000 Indian Open World Ranking Snooker bash kicks off at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Novotel today, all eyes will be on two of India's gems, Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, the former a wild card holder and the latter a pro-card holder, who has chosen to play the qualifying round in Hyderabad.

Pankaj Advani
Pankaj Advani

While Advani, who has given up his Tour card, and Mehta, who has just got his Tour card, are both capable of winning the coveted title, the irony is that the big prize money on offer will be of no use to the 15-time World champion (Advani), as wild card holders aren't eligible for it as per the rules laid down by World Snooker.

Five other world champions along with a similar number of Indian wild card holders will be in the fray in the five-day event that will have Stuart Bingham of the UK, the current World No 2, leading the challenge. But its fellow Brit Jimmy White, young at 54, who is expected to make a few heads turn. A runner-up on six occasions at the Crucible, where the World Championships take place every year, White, a father of five, has the unique distinction of playing in and winning the National Championship in India back in 1980.

And who did he beat in the final but Arvind Savur, now Advani's coach. For Advani it could be sweet revenge if he came across the venerable White and manages to beat him. He isn't unaware of the expectations. "The expectations are always high. Of course there will be pressure to deliver. Expectations aside, I am prepared for anything," said Advani.

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