Davis Cup: AITA’s stance on India-Pakistan tie unchanged

Security concerns remain in Pakistan for the upcoming contest between the two nations, says the All India Tennis Federation.

Rohan Bopanna has confirmed his availability for the Davis Cup contest between India and Pakistan. “He would not have any issue if he is paired with Paes, if the tie is played on neutral venue,” according to an AITA source.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The All India Tennis Association on Monday said security concerns remained in Pakistan for the upcoming Davis Cup tie between the two nations.

AITA will convey this message to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in response to a query from it following Pakistan’s appeal against its decision to shift the contest away from Islamabad to a neutral venue on security grounds. The tie is scheduled to be played on November 29 and November 30.

On November 4, the ITF had paid heed to AITA’s repeated requests to accommodate the fixture to a neutral venue. This prompted the Pakistan Tennis Federation to challenge the move. In response, the ITF reached out to AITA on Monday.

An independent tribunal of the ITF will now deliberate upon the appeal and make a final decision by November 18.

‘Stand not changed’

“The ITF has sought our response on Pakistan’s appeal. Our stand has not changed. We still feel that security concerns remain in Pakistan for our players and neutral venue is a better option. We will convey this to the ITF on Tuesday. ITF will let us know a final decision by November 18,” AITA secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.

The PTF believes that the peaceful opening of the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday was a clear indicator that it was safe to host the Indian team in Islamabad despite diplomatic tensions between the two nations.

PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan said his federation will explore other options in case the ITF rejects its appeal. “We may tell the ITF that we’ll not nominate the neutral venue. We’ll request it to ask AITA to choose where its outfit wants to play,” Saifullah said.

If the ITF delivers its verdict on November 18, the AITA will face practical difficulties in making travel arrangements, including procuring visas, within four days. The AITA would like to send its players at least five days before the tie to acclimatise to the conditions. It means the selected players must reach the venue by November 25.

Confusion

The development further delays the selection of the Indian squad since confusion remains as to who will play the tie. The top players who had refused to travel to Pakistan made themselves available for selection after the tie was moved to a neutral venue.

If the ITF takes the tie back to Islamabad, top players such as Ramkumar Ramanathan, Sumit Nagal, Sasi Mukund and Rohan Bopanna may again pull out. The second-string players who were ready to play in Pakistan still don’t know if they will be picked if the tie is played at a neutral venue.

Bopanna available

Bopanna has confirmed his availability after new captain Rohit Rajpal convinced him to do so. “Rajpal has urged the players to put nation first, leaving behind the bitterness of the past. Bopanna has sent his availability by mail. He would not have any issue if he is paired with Paes, if the tie is played on neutral venue,” said an AITA source. “Sasi Mukund has also sent confirmatory mail to the federation,” added the source.

Ramkumar and Nagal had earlier confirmed their availability for the tie. They had pulled out of the matches initially due to security concerns in Pakistan.