KOCHI: Being compared to a stalwart like Pankaj Advani can faze any teenager. The multiple world champion is a legend of the sport after all. But not 16-year-old Digvijay Kadian. It inspires him instead, to follow in the footsteps of his hero and make a name for himself. He has, in fact, started making a name for himself at this tender age and is promising big things.
“My coach Alok Kumar sir (multiple national champion) keeps saying that I am as good as him (Advani). I am flattered and thankful to hear such nice things. I don’t like to make any comparisons. I am confident in my own abilities and back myself,” Kadian said on the sidelines of the Indian Open snooker tournament on Wednesday.
After enjoying a breakthrough season in 2018, Kadian is seen as someone who can keep the legacy going. He won six national medals including one gold, two bronze and three silver in sub-junior and junior categories last year. He also bagged bronze in the U-16 World Championship in Russia. Playing his first Indian Open, the teenager will go up against Jamie Jones on Thursday.
“It is a massive opportunity for me to get a chance to play in a ranking tournament at such a young age. I believe I can outshine my opponent and handle the pressure of playing in such a big event. I had a good time last year and participating in this tournament is a good start for me to 2019,” he said.
The teenager is one of the wild cards in the tournament and he knows there are a lot of expectations, given the promise he is showing. “I just have to play well and perform. That is my only focus at the moment. If I start to set targets like dreaming of becoming a world champion someday, it won’t work. I just want to go with the flow and be in the moment,” he said.
Kadian has a busy calendar ahead starting with a trip to England. He will hone his skills at a cue school there for two months in preparation for the U-16 World Championship, which will be held in July in China. “It will be a whole new experience to go to a cue school. The tables there are better than what we have here. The environment will be different and it will help me prepare for the World Championship and the season ahead,” said the boy from Haryana’s Rohtak.
Kadian’s primary focus is on improving his strengths and work on his weaknesses. He has some strong views when it comes to the game. “Snooker is everything for me. It is growing and is one of the most popular and competitive sports in the world. I think it should be an Olympic sport. This is what everyone playing and loving the sport hope.”
Three Indians lose
On Day 1 of the Indian Open, three of the six Indian wild cards crashed out. Shrikrishna S, Laxman Rawat and Asutosh Padhy lost to Ben Woollaston, Zhou Yulong and Dominic Dale, respectively. “Maybe the players felt a bit of nerves. It can happen. I can handle the pressure. I have been preparing hope that I am fully ready,” Kadian said.