Calcutta: M. Prabhakar of Karnataka knocked out seasoned Neeraj Kumar to storm into the last 32 of the 8-ball section of the Big Bazaar National 8-ball & 9-ball Pool Championships, at the Spring Club, here on Monday.
Both the players refused to give an inch, but Prabhakar held his nerve and inched ahead in the final moments to settle the issue in an exciting finish.
In another match, Rajesh Tulsian of Bengal shocked his much-fancied rival Manish Jain by winning the deciding rack and clinched the issue 6-5.
Both played excellent rally of safe shots in the opening rack and later Rajesh pocketed the black to win the rack.
Manan Chandra also received stiff competition from Michael Rebello of Karnataka but the experienced Manan managed to clinch the issue.
Shahbaaz Khan of PSPB and Harpreet Singh of Delhi advanced by winning their respective matches by identical 6-1 margins against S Magesh of Tamil Nadu and Akshay Rehani of Delhi respectively.
Alok Kumar, the 2010 Asian Games bronze medallist in 8-ball event, defeated Shakeel Ahmed of Bengal 6-2.
Alok is one of the favourites to win the 8-ball and the 9-ball titles but the Chandigarh-based cueist refuses to believe he is a frontrunner.
“In cuesports anything can happen. There are no favourites. I am in good form and confident of a good show here,” Alok said.
After the Nationals, Alok will be off to Winnipeg, Canada where he will play the warm-up and the main event of the Americas’ Cup.