The year was 2012, the place was Leeds, England. A 19-year-old Dhvaj Haria went up against a 16-time world champion in Mike Russell on his World Billiards Championship debut.
There was little that Haria, from the Indian city of Ahmedabad, could do as he saw the Englishman go ahead with a 539-313 win in the timed format of the game.
A little more than five years later, at the IBSF World Billiards Championship opener in Doha, Haria rallied back from a 1-2 deficit in the 150-Up format, blanked the 48-year-old veteran in the fourth frame, before closing out a see-saw of a fifth to open his campaign with a 3-2 win (2-151, 151-135, 73-150, 151-0, 150-140).
“It’s been tough journey to be honest, to beat him after a gap of five years,” Haria told Gulf Times after the win over Russell yesterday.
“Though it’s not a good score but a win is a win. I must have played him 3-4 times by now but this is the first time I have beaten him.”
Talking about the 2012 match against Russell, the 24-year-old said, “In the long format of the game, he (Russell) is obviously much better. The shorter format suits my style of play better.
“Having beaten a champion in the first game of the tournament here, and that too after toughing it out, it has given me a lot of confidence.”
Russell, 48, blamed missing a few crucial shots, like a few cannons, when it looked like he was in control at 121-3 in the fifth frame, and an in-off at 131-90, for the loss.
“The tables are very nice, wonderful conditions; in fact they are too nice. If you have a chance you should win, if you don’t then you don’t deserve to win. And I had many chances, missed a few shots,” Russell said after the game.
“Didn’t play great, but I didn’t play bad either. I made four breaks over a 100 and lost 3-2. It wasn’t bad, early days yet.”
Talking about his young opponent, he said, “He is a good player, especially in the short game format.”
Russell worked with the Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation (QBSF) for seven years, starting 2007, training players.
“They are wonderful people. I was there for seven years and I can’t speak highly enough of them. All the guys there… for me, it’s the best federation in the world. It’s true. The amount they do for their players, for their staff. You see the conditions here, it’s just wonderful. You wouldn’t get these conditions anywhere in the world,” he said.
Russell bounced back with a 3-0 win in his second game of the day, against Syrian 15-year-old Yazan Alhadad.
Qatar’s Khamis al-Obaidli suffered two defeats, at the hands of Singaporean star Peter Gilchrist and Myanmar’s Chit Ko Ko.
“Khamis is a lovely guy and is basically here for the snooker that is going to start after the billiards and he wants to get the feel of the table, for the experience,” Russell said.
Haria, meanwhile, picked up another victory over Irish veteran Aidan Murray, but went down 2-3 against compatriot and former champion Rupesh Shah.
Champion Pankaj Advani finished the opening day without losing a single frame, beating Iraq’s Ihab al-Salih, Myanmar’s Aung Htay and Syria’s Abdulkarim Maksoud.
Others who were unbeaten on the day were Shah and Sourav Kothari, besides Singaporean Peter Gilchrist.
Day 1 Results
Dhvaj Haria (India) beat Mike Russell (England) 3-2
Dhruv Sitwala (India) beat Robert Hall (England) 3-2
Chit Ko Ko (Myanmar) beat Khamis al-Obaidli (Qatar) 3-0
Rupesh Shah (India) beat Aidan Murray (Ireland) 3-1
Aung Htay (Myanmar) beat Brijesh Damani (India) 3-0
Pankaj Advani (India) beat Ihab al-Salih (Iraq) 3-0
Nay Thway Oo (Myanmar) beat Siddharth Parikh (India) 3-0
Pankaj Advani (India) beat Aung Htay (Myanmar) 3-0
Sourav Kothari (India) beat Siddharth Parikh (India) 3-1
Steve Mifsud (Australia) beat Nay Thway Oo (Myanmar) 3-2
Robert Hall (England) beat Chit Ko Ko (Myanmar) 3-1
Peter Gilchrist (Singapore) beat Khamis al-Obaidli (Qatar) 3-0
Rupesh Shah (India) beat Dhvaj Haria (India) 3-2
Brijesh Damani (India) beat Abdulkarim Maksoud (Syria) 3-0
Mike Russell (England) beat Yazan Alhadad (Syria) 3-0
Peter Gilchrist (Singapore) beat Robert Hall (England) 3-1
Pankaj Advani (India) beat Abdulkarim Maksoud (Syria) 3-0
Dhruv Sitwala (India) beat Chit Ko KO (Myanmar) 3-2
Rupesh Shah (India) beat Yazan Alhadad (Syria) 3-0
Aung Htay (Myanmar) beat Ihab al-Salih (Iraq) 3-0
Sourav Kothari (India) beat Steve Mifsud (Australia) 3-1
Dhvaj Haria (India) beat Aidan Murray (Ireland) 3-1
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