Snooker is not a very popular game as far as India is concerned, but the country has produced some extraordinary snooker talents over the years who have bagged several honours.
Let us look at the top 10 snooker players from India.
Pankaj Advani, Vidya Pillai, Aditya Mehta, Yasin Merchant, Geet Sethi, Lucky Vatnani, Sourav Kothari, Arantxa Sabchis, Amee Kamani, Manan Chandra
Hailed as the greatest snooker player in India, Pankaj Advani certainly has a trophy cabinet to be proud of; the Karnataka-born man has 15 World Championship Billiards titles and 7 World Snooker (IBSF) titles to his name.
The 34-year-old was groomed by the iconic Arvind Savur, who helped him master the art of snooker. Advani’s achievements have been recognised by the government of India with several honors, which include the Padma Bhushan in 2018.
Tamil Nadu-born Pillai is currently the second richest snooker player in India who in 2016 was presented the Eklavya Award for outstanding performance in sports by the Karnataka government. Vidya has emerged as the winner of the Women’s National Snooker Championship ten times in her career. Adding to her extraordinary list of achievements, Pillai has also won the National Championship nine times.
Aditya Mehta is a retired snooker player who started his journey in 2004 with the Challenge Tour. He was a member of the World Snooker tour from 2007-2008 and 2011-2018. Though Mehta came second in his first ranking event in 2013 as he lost 0-5 to Ding Junhui, he has performed brilliantly at the Asian and world Games over the years.
Yasin Merchant is recognised as India’s first professional snooker player. His three National Snooker Championship victories in 1991, 2000 and 2001 are remembered fondly by all Indians. Khar Gymkhana’s first snooker hall was named after the 55-year-old, and is thusly known as Yasin Merchant Snooker Room.
Geet Sethi is known for his rivalry with eight-time English billiards World Champion, Mike Russell. The two players gifted the world two amazing finals, with Russell emerging victorious in 1996, while Geet got the better of his opponent in 1998. Apart from this, Geet has also won the World Championship on six different occasions and has two world records in English billiards.
Vatnani, who was born in Hyderabad, was a member of the World Snooker Tour in the 2011-12 season. Though hailing from India, Vatnani’s snooker career grew in Sheffield, England. Despite spending a lot of time in England, the retired snooker player could not break into the top 64 due to visa problems.
Sourav Kothari is a Kolkata-born snooker player whose father, Manoj Kothari, was the 1990 IBSF World Billiards Champion. Sourav reached the World Championship final in 2017 and 2019 but unfortunately finished second on both occasions to David Causier and Gilchrist Kothari respectively.
Arantxa Sabchis is a professional snooker player who gave India its first gold medal at a World Championship for women’s snooker. In 2015, she achieved another extraordinary feat by winning inaugural IBSF World Billiards Championship in Adelaide, Australia. The 31-year-old is also the only woman in the world to have won IBSF World titles in both billiards and snooker.
Amee Kamani is a female snooker player who switched to cue sports from table tennis as she was unable to land sponsorship deals, which further led to the thought of her not becoming a top player. The 29-year-old started her journey 2011 at the Madhya Pradesh Snooker and Billiards Academy in Indore and is now one of India’s top snooker players.
Manan Chandra is an amateur pool and snooker player who is married to another amateur snooker and billiards player, Anuja Thakur. Manan Chandra made his way to the 2006 IBSF World Championships in Amman, Jordan, but lost 8-7 to Daniel Ward.