Gujarat Kings crowned champions of Indian Cue Masters League
Ahmedabad, August 24: The Gujarat Kings rode on their home advantage to capture the inaugural Indian Cue Masters League here on Friday evening.
Led by their effervescent captain Andrew Pagett, they literally blew away the Delhi Dons 3-0 in front of a packed and adoring crowd to pocket the massive trophy and the winners’ prize purse of Rs 20 lakh.
“I know I couldn’t give it to her tonight,” Pagett said, immediately after the win, referring to his opposing captain Kelly Fisher’s birthday. “I had to do what my owners asked me to do. Luckily, it came off,” he added.
“The pressure was on them and we just played our best. The atmosphere here, and the crowd and the final was incredible,” he said, even as the celebrations rose to a crescendo in the stands.
“We congratulate all the teams and the eventual champions,” Atul Pande, the managing director of Sportzlive, the organizers said. “We are delighted to see how well the Cue Slam has been received across the country. We will come back soon, with a bigger and grander League,” he added.
The Kings’ dashing pair of Pagett and Daria Sirotina began their march towards the pedestal in the Mixed Doubles Snooker. They seemed to be losing the opening frame but a slice of luck in the dying moments turned it around for them.
Leading 13-12 with less than 20 seconds left, Malkeet Singh opted to pot a slightly difficult red instead of playing it safe. He got it in but the cue ball found its way into the diagonally opposite pocket to the delight of the home crowd. It gave them the first frame fortuitously and that set the trend for the day.
In the second, Pagett and Sirotina were totally regal, racking up an early 22-0 lead. Just when it seemed that it would be enough, the table opened up for them and they galloped away to a 50-0 victory to clinch the first point.
In the 9-Ball Singles Pool clash played over seven racks, veteran Alok Kumar quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead; but Manan Chandra found his touch at the right time to claw his way back into the contest. Displaying amazing calm, he won one rack after another to level the match at 3-3. But he just didn’t get a chance in the shootout as Alok Kumar swept the table to put the Kings in the front 2-0.
The Icons’ encounter between Pagett and Kelly Fisher, just like the earlier encounters, veering towards errors rather than any pyrotechnics. Kelly edged ahead 7-0 but her joy barely lasted a few seconds; Pagett regained the lead and opted to play safely once he was reasonably ahead. He eventually won it 24-11 to take the opening frame.
In the second, the Welsh Wizard again showed his class, racing away to 35-1 by the halfway stage. The birthday girl had no other option but to force a couple of snooks on Pagett. All her efforts went in vain as Pagett managed to avert them with his mastery.