Mehta, Advani for snooker World Cup

Bengaluru: Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani will represent India which will be among 24 teams taking part in the 2015 World Cup to be held in Wuxi, China, from June 15 to 21, with a total prize money of $800,000 at stake.

India are placed in Group A along with top seeds China ‘A’, Austria, Singapore, Norway and Malta as per the draw released Thursday by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

In the 2011 World Cup held in Thailand, India finished third in their group behind England and Northern Ireland with wins over Brazil and Belgium.

“It will be a challenge for sure as I have to get used to playing on the pro tables after a long time. Both Aditya and I are not looking too far ahead,” said 29-year-old Advani speaking to IANS here on Thursday.

“But since the matches (singles and doubles) are single frame affairs, anything can happen. I think, we are in with a chance.”

While Mehta, the only Indian on the professional circuit, is expected to be in China for a tournament prior to the World Cup, Bengaluru-based Advani will have to make a dash to China from a tournament in Mumbai finishing on June 13.

“I hope to make it to Wuxi by June 14 afternoon as that will give me a little over a day to practice before we take on China in our first match on June 15 evening,” national champion Advani said.

The 24 teams will be divided into four groups of six teams, with each team to play five matches in the group stages. The top two teams in each group qualify for the knock-out stages. The format will be a combination of singles and doubles play.

The home favourites China will be fielding two teams with their top two players, World No.4 Ding Junhui and 21st ranked Xiao Guodong leading the challenge. China won the last World Cup in 2011 when they beat Northern Ireland in the final.

Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham, the last two world c hampions, make up a strong English team. John Higgins and Stephen Maguire will represent Scotland, while Mark Williams hopes to recover from a shoulder injury in time to play for Wales alongside Michael White.

Australian pair Neil Robertson and Vinnie Calabrese will also be among the favourites.

World No.37 Kurt Maflin, who took Selby to a deciding frame at the World Championship on his Crucible debut last month, will team up with his wife Anita Maflin, winner of Nordic Cup, will represent Norway.

The groups:

Group A: China ‘A’ (Ding Junhui and Xiao Guodong), Norway (Kurt Maflin and Anita Maflin), Singapore (Marvin Lim Chun Kiatt and KK Chan), India (Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani), Malta (Tony Drago and Alex Borg), Austria (Andrews Ploner and Paul Schopf).

Group B: Hong Kong (Marco Fu and Au Chi Wai), Scotland (John Higgins and Stephen Maguire), Iran (Hossein Vafaei Ayouri and Ehsan Heydari Nezhad), Malaysia (Thor Chuan Leong and Mohd Reza Hassan), Brazil (Igor Figueiredo and Itaro Santos), Belgium (Luca Brecel and Thomas Skalski).

Group C: Australia (Neil Robertson and Vinnie Calabrese), Wales (Mark Williams and Michael White), Pakistan (Hamza Akbar and Muhammad Sajjad), Qatar (Ahmed Saif and Ali Alobaidaly), Poland (Mateusz Baranowski and Adam Stefanow), Northern Ireland (Gerard Greene and Joe Swail).

Group D: England (Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham), Republic of Ireland (Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien), China ‘B’ (Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao), Thailand (Dechawat Poomjaeng and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh), UAE (Khalid Alkamali and Mohamed Shehab), Germany (Lukas Kleckers and Felix Frede).