The World Snooker tour visits new shores this week as the sport heads back to the place where it was first played, India.
The game was created in the country by British army officers in the late 19th century and Monday sees the start of the first ranking event ever to take place there.
India’s Snooker Boom
The country has seen a recent surge in the number of people playing the sport and they now have two players on the professional circuit.
Pankaj Advani is an eight times world billiards champion but at the start of last season, turned his attentions to snooker and has enjoyed relative success in his short career so far.
He reached the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open in February, defeating established players such as Shaun Murphy and Graeme Dott before eventually bowing out to Judd Trump.
He’s continued his steady form into this season and is currently ranked at 70 in the world. He defeated Matt Selt in the qualifiers and now faces Scot Marcus Campbell in the first round on Tuesday evening.
Advani is slight favourite to win the match, with William Hill providing the best odds of 10/11.
Also through to the main tournament is fellow Indian professional Aditya Mehta who has enjoyed similar success since joining the tour in 2012.
Mehta’s season started on a positive not when he won the snooker gold medal at the World Games in Cali, Columbia and a few weeks later, he beat Xiao Guodong to book his place at his home event.
Mehta plays 2006 World Champion Peter Ebdon on Monday evening and he also edges the betting prices, with Coral providing odds of 5/6. The best odds on an Ebdon win, who has been woefully out of form recently, is provided by Stan James at 11/10.
Main Tournament Contenders
Neil Robertson has been the man to beat so far this season, having already reached four finals this season, although has only won one of them, the Wuxi Classic back in July.
He faces Thai player Noppon Saengkham in the first round tomorrow morning and is favourite to win the tournament outright, with Coral providing the best odds of 7/1.
Ding Junhui has been in hot form of late and would be within the crop of players I expect to do well this week. He won the Shanghai Masters in September and also reached the final of last weekend’s European Tour Event.
A number of bookies, including Bet Victor, provide odds of 9/1 on him lifting the tournament on Friday.
The player who beat Ding in the final of the Ruhr Open last week was Mark Allen who begins his tournament on Tuesday night against the experienced Nigel Bond.
I think Allen will also do well this week, and the best odds on him lifting the inaugural Indian Open are provided by Bet 365 at 12/1.
Other players to look out for this week include Mark Selby, who will be looking to ignite his campaign after a poor start to the season. He is available at 15/2 with Paddy Power whilst John Higgins is priced at 10/1 with a number of websites including BetFred.
Unfortunately, there is no TV coverage of the event but you will be able to keep up to date with the action via the streaming services on the betting websites.
You can check out the latest snooker betting odds with BritBets by clicking HERE.
You can also claim free bets with the William Hill betting app by clicking HERE.