The International Kite Festival (Uttarayan), held in Gujarat, attracts lakhs of revellers every year. But while his friends are living it up back home, Ahmedabad cueist Rupesh Shah is attending to serious business at KSBA here.
After posting his second straight victory at the Senior National men’s billiards championship on Thursday, Rupesh explained that he is missing out on all the fun.
“Around 40-50 of my friends are constantly texting me with pictures from the festival — plenty of food, drinks and kites. It’s a huge celebration,” Rupesh said.
The two-time world champion added that he even skipped the 2003 Senior Nationals to attend the kite festival.
“Of course, my priorities have changed now. While I’d love to be in Ahmedabad, competing in the Nationals is more important,” Rupesh said.
The 44-year-old got the job done at the table with a 101-8, 84-102, 100-18, 101-7 victory over Madhya Pradesh’s Siddharth Patni.
Favourite Pankaj Advani coasted to a 100-30, 100-0, 101-10 win against Telangana’s Muneem. After the match, Muneem reminded Advani that the two players had faced each other once before, at the 1999 Nationals.
“It is my privilege to play against you,” Muneem told Advani, who responded with a warm smile and handshake.
Tamil Nadu youngster S. Shrikrishna recorded his second straight win to seal a last-32 spot.
Rupesh, Advani, B. Bhaskar and Dhruv Sitwala are some of the others who have qualified for the knockout rounds.
The results (group stage): Brijesh Damani (PSPB) bt Ankur Khetan (Guj) 100-45, 100-16, 100-29; M.L. Lakshman (Kar) lost to Kunal Agarwal (Odi) 92-100, 73-100, 100-6, 87-100.
Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Muneem (Tel) 100-30, 100-0, 101-10; Rupesh Shah (PSPB) bt Siddharth Patni (MP) 101-8, 84-102, 100-18, 101-7.
Dhvaj Haria (PSPB) bt Sasha Sambi (Kar) 100-28, 100-17, 100-0; Siddharth Parikh (Rlys) bt Arjun Mehta (Kar) 100-0, 101-52, 101-22; Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) bt Buvaneshwaran (TN) 103-6, 102-52, 29-102, 100-2.
B. Bhaskar (Kar) bt Rovin D’Souza (Rlys) 100-37, 101-90, 101-10; S. Shrikrishna (TN) bt Kaavya Bharath (TN) 79-100, 100-23, 101-87, 101-25.