Players with reputations found the going tough in the first round of the knock-out stage as the formidable Dhruv Sitwala of PSPB and Mohd. Asim of Railways struggled to get past little-known opponents, in the BPCL-ONGC National 9-Ball Pool Championship at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club, in Mumbai on Thursday.
Finding pool a different ball game, Sitwala, who was shocked in his concluding round-robin tie on Wednesday, struggled to find form for the second day in succession but squeaked past Gujarat's Anish Anandani 7-6 in one of the closest matches of the day.
Mohd. Asim also was stretched before he struck form late to prevail over Maharashtra's Deepak Luthria 7-4 in another exciting opening round.
Fancied Saurav Kothari of PSPB too fought hard for a 7-3 win over a determined N.N. Rakesh of Chandigarh.
In contrast, India's current teen sensation Aditya Mehta romped to a convincing 7-1 victory over Viresh Prabhu in an all-Maharashtra affair.
Men (1st round): Amit Yadav (Pun) bt Vineet Ahuja (Mah) 7-6; Kunal Agashe (Mah) bt Amit Sapru (Mah) 7-3; Aditya Mehta (Mah) bt Viresh Prabhu 7-1; Rishabh Pandya (Mah) bt Pushpinder Singh (Del) 7-5; Prabhat (KSBA) bt B.S. Aga (Mah) 7-1; Vinayak Agarwa (UP) bt Navpreet Singh (Del) 7-2; Sameer (Pun) bt Mahesh (TN) 7-6; Samuel Selven (Mah) bt Rakesh Vyas (Mah) 7-4; Bhupinder Singh (Del) bt Rupinder Singh (Chd) 7-4; Wasim (TN) bt Chandu Shah (Mah) 7-5; Saurav Kothari (PSPB) bt N.N. Rakesh (Chd) 7-3; Gunjan Patel (Guj) bt Harsh Thakkar (Mah) 7-3; Puneet Kaushik (Del) bt L. Nagaraj (KSBA) 7-6; Mohd. Asim (Rlys) bt Deepak Luthria (Mah) 7-4; Sandeep Gulati (Del) bt Prabhakar (KSBA) 7-4; Dhruv Sitwala (PSPB) bt Anish Anandani (Guj) 7-6; Balaji (Kar) bt Purvang Patel (Guj) 7-2; K. Venkatesham (AP) bt Rajat Kaneja (Chd) 7-5.
Pool 'A': Vidya Pillai (TN) bt Neha Sanghvi (Mah) 3-1; Vidya Pillai bt T.V. Sridevi (KSBA) 3-2.
Pool 'B': Chitra Magimairaj (KSBA) bt Renu Barkatiya (MP) 3-0.
Pool 'C': Anuja Thakur (Mah) bt Suniti Damani (WB) 3-0.
Pool 'D': Sangeet Hemchand (Mah) bt Uma Devi (KSBA) 3-2; Indira Gowda (KSBA) bt Uma Devi 3-0.