Indian Open Snooker: Higgins shows his class, Advani misses the bus

John HigginsMumbai: Former four-time world champion and world ranked no 12, John Higgins of England showed his class with a magnificent effort of an unfinished break of 136 in the sixth frame as he overcame Jamie Burnett of Scotland 4-2 in a first round match of the 64-player main draw in the 300,000 pounds prize money 2nd Indian Open Snooker World Ranking Tournament.

Meanwhile, India’s brightest hope 29-year-old Pankaj Advani misses out to make the cut as he faltered at the finish going down to Scotland’s Rhys Clark 4-3 in a tense and exciting wild card qualifying round match late on Tuesday night. The 20-year-old Clark snatched the crucial deciding frame on the re-spotted black ball to complete the victory which earned him a place in the tournament proper.

The Wizard of Wishaw, Higgins, who last month won the Welsh Open, was not at his best initially and could only muster a couple of small but useful breaks of 41 in the first and 52 in the second as he took a 3-0 lead against the 47th ranked Scotsman who was struggling to settle down. Burnett stayed close with his illustrious opponent and managed to pocket the next two frames, but that was as far as he got. The 39-year-old Englishman finally seemed to have found his touch and unfurled a sensational run of 136 by polishing off the balls from the table.

In an interesting first round match-up between two youngsters, 23-year-old Michael White of Wales and 24-year-old Chinese Cao Yupeng were engaged in a grim duel for supremacy before the former with calculated last-ditch effort managed to pulled through at 4-3. The world 23rd ranked Welshmen produced notable breaks of 97 (2nd frame), 96(4th) and 77 (7th) to complete a 14-66, 106(97)-0, 64-35, 96(96)-0, 31-71(41), 61(46)-69(40), 116(77)-13) victory and a set up a second round meeting with England’s 29-year-old Mathew Selt who brushed aside 20-year-old compatriot Joel Walker 4-0.

Earlier in the day, Rhys Clack also bowed out of the competition as he lost to Chris Wakelin of England 4-2 in another first round match. The young Scotsman returning to the tables after a short rest of less than 11 hours was unable to rework the magic which stood him in good stead the previous night and surrendered to the consistent play of Wakelin who just potted steadily to emerge victorious. Clark continued from where he had left off on Tuesday by taking the opening frame but the 22-year-old Wakelin fought back by producing a break of 70 to win the second to level the scores. He then followed it up with two more decent efforts of 42 and 37 to pocket the next two frames and set up a 3-1 lead. Clark not ready to give in without a fight compiled a run of 52 to take the fifth before Wakelin with a couple of tiny efforts, including a 32 went on to claim the sixth to close out the match

Anthony McGill of Scotland and England’s Rod Lawler also won by the short route defeating Englishmen Tom Ford and qualifier Sam Baird.