Paul Krishnamurty's regular snooker column has been firing out winners again, with 59/1 John Higgins the latest at the Welsh Open, soon after 19/1 Shaun Murphy at The Masters. Here's his four-man plan for the Indian Open...
"Walden gets the nod, as a ranking event winner this season. That win at the International Championship showed again that he's good in Asia, which could be a clue this week."
Thanks to a series of defections amongst the leading players, this year's Indian Open must be the lowest standard ranking event in history, with a field weaker than any of the supposedly lesser European Tour events.
With no Ronnie, Robbo, Selby, Murphy or Maguire to worry about, one might think this was a straightforward for the only two big-guns to have made the journey, Ding Junhui and Judd Trump. Yet given the former's diabolical season and the latter's poor recent win ratio, neither make any betting appeal at 7.06/1 and 5.04/1 respectively.
This is not a tournament to be playing up much of the winnings provided by 59/1 John Higgins and 19/1 Shaun Murphy in Wales and London respectively. With that in mind, the usual four-man plan amounts to around half the usual stake, although I wouldn't deter anyone from backing an extra, second pick in each section.
Ding is the man to beat here, but there are plenty of pitfalls if, as usual, he starts the tournament slowly. Welsh Open semi-finalist Luca Brecel is at last beginning to show some of his extreme potential and will be a tough last-32 opponent. Even tougher will be the winner of that event and potential quarter-final opponent Higgins. I can't excited about Higgins either, at a fifth of his Welsh Open odds on the basis of one good week.
Liang Wenbo makes much more appeal at around 50.049/1. Always a highly capable player, liable to pop up in the latter stages of an event at big odds, Wenbo reached the semis in Germany and ran into Higgins in Wales.
Mark Davis is another to consider, but the best alternative could be Anthony McGill at 120.0119/1. Only two months ago, the Scot was a UK Championship quarter-finalist, where he gave Ronnie a run for his money. He will break through soon.
With Ali Carter withdrawing, this section is extremely weak, with Ricky Walden and Joe Perry the only even vaguely recent winners. Welsh finalist Ben Woollaston, long advocated by this column as a top prospect, is the other.
Walden gets the nod, as a ranking event winner this season. That win at the International Championship showed again that he's good in Asia, which could be a clue this week. Aditya Mehta relished playing on home soil last year, producing by far his best ever performance to reach the final. He's worth a look in this section, although totally without form this season.
If he's up for it, Trump may well take this title in a canter. However the tournament favourite hasn't got the most straightforward draw, as he might have to play the most in-form player around just to reach the quarter-finals.
Mark Williams has, from nowhere, found a new lease of life. Prior to winning the World Seniors Championship, he'd conceded only five frames in five matches en route to the final in Poland, which he lost to Neil Robertson. Before that he'd reached the Welsh semis. It seems perverse to back a player who was close to triple-figure odds for most events at 15.014/1, but he is the form man.
Finally another remarkably weak section. Marco Fu stands head and shoulders above the rest, followed by Shootout winner Michael White. Either look decent bets, but proven ranking event winner Fu gets the nod, especially given his superior Asian experience.
The interesting outsider here is Indian player and former World Billiards champion Pankaj Advani, who knocked out Stuart Bingham and Mark Allen in this last year, before losing a deciding frame to fellow local favourite Mehta in the quarters. Though he relinquished his card to focus on billiards, expect him to be well prepared for this home fixture. Odds of 200.0199/1 are definitely worth a small interest.
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