Davis Cup: Saketh Myneni returns for India-Pakistan tie

Since Sumit Nagal has made himself unavailable, citing an injury, the five-member committee picked Myneni, the next best player on ranking charts.

Saketh Myneni last played for India in September 2018 when India travelled to Serbia for the World Group Play-offs.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

 

Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan will spearhead the Indian team in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-1 tie to be staged in Islamabad on September 14 and 15.

Saketh Myneni, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will be the other members of the five-member squad, in which the 292nd ranked Sasi Kumar Mukund has been drafted as the reserve player.

The selection committee felt restricted as the 196 ranked Sumit Nagal ruled himself out with an injury. Saketh was the next best singles player with a rank of 271.

Indian Squad
  • Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Saketh Myneni, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan.
  • Captain: Mahesh Bhupathi; Coach: Zeeshan Ali.

Based on availability, the three best singles players and the two best doubles players were chosen on the basis of their international rank. Bopanna and Divij had won the Asian Games gold last year, asserting themselves as the best team in the region.

While Prajnesh is ranked 90 in the world and Ramkumar 184, the Pakistan team has no player in the top 1,350. Their best ranked singles player is Ahmed Choudhary at Tied-1387. Doubles specialist Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi is World No. 55.

The seasoned Aqeel Khan, who had won the national title in India, has been travelling to the Grand Slams as the hitting partner for Aisam. Aqeel may be ranked 1,489 in singles and 2,096 in doubles, but he can really compete hard in the Davis Cup.

In the last Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan in Mumbai in 2006, Leander Paes had won the decisive fifth rubber 6-4, 7-6(4), 3-6, 0-6, 6-1 against Aqeel on grass at the Brabourne Stadium.

India has a 6-0 record against Pakistan in Davis Cup. It has lost only four rubbers while winning 22 of them spread over the six ties starting from 1962.

The new regional format allows only two days of play. The first day features two singles matches in the ‘best of three set’ format. The second day will start with the doubles followed by the two reverse singles.

The rising cross-border tensions seem to have had little bearing, at least for now, as a five-member squad has been selected. "With India and Pakistan something keeps happening daily. There are still five weeks to go for the tie. The players were a bit concerned a few days back. But once those issues were cleared it has been fine. I am very happy that we have been able to choose a full strength team," said India's Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali.