AITA clarifies its stand on India vs Pakistan Davis Cup tie

Ahead of the Davis Cup tie to be held in a neutral venue, AITA stressed that it cannot ignore the players who had signed up to play in Pakistan.

Even though the Pakistan Tennis Federation has appealed to the ITF against the decision to shift the tie, the AITA will go through the selection process all over again, once the venue and surface for the tie are decided. (REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE)   -  GETTY IMAGES

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has been working relentlessly towards shifting the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan from Islamabad to a neutral venue for close to three months.

However, when it eventually succeeded in its attempt, the AITA was surprised by the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) decision to move the tie to a neutral venue, as it had never given a hint about the same, and had, in fact, asked the AITA to go through the procedures of applying for visa etc. for the visit to Pakistan.

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The AITA had got carried away so much by the emergency measures of fire fighting that it was caught unawares even in a favourable situation when the ITF first postponed the tie and then moved it out of Pakistan.

Dismayed by the outpour of unflattering comments by Davis Cup team captain Mahesh Bhupathi, whose seat was temporarily offered to Rohit Rajpal for the Pakistan tie, and that of the senior player Rohan Bopanna, not to forget being projected eternally "unprofessional" in public perception, the AITA has sought to clarify its stand.

Akhouri Bishwadeep, AITA's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), addressing a press conference here on Thursday said on the outset that the national federation had the "utmost regard for Mahesh Bhupathi and other players." He added that the AITA had to take some decisions despite the "many uncertainties."

Presenting a chronological record of the events that unfolded from the start, to the current situation when Pakistan has been asked by ITF to select a venue abroad, the AITA stressed that it would not have been possible to dump the players who had expressed their willingness to
play in Pakistan.

Yet, it was categorically mentioned by captain Rohit Rajpal, who is also the Chairman of the selection committee, that all efforts would be made to field the best team for the tie. There was no answer to the tricky question as to why the erstwhile captain Mahesh Bhupathi could not be treated in the same way, like the players who had expressed their unwillingness to travel to Islamabad, but were still being considered for selection.

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While players like Saketh Myneni, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Arjun Kadhe, Vijay Sundar Prashanth, Sriram Balaji, Manish Sureshkumar and Sidharth Rawat had expressed their consent to go to Pakistan, the AITA also sought the services of Olympic medallist and 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes, who readily agreed. It was also clarified that the AITA chose to stick to the pattern of having a non-playing captain rather than burden Leander with the task, as he was expected to play.

When AITA initiated the visa process, it was asked to get a "No objection certificate" from the Indian government by the Pakistan High Commission, which was also obtained.

Even though the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has appealed to the ITF against the decision to shift the tie, the AITA will go through the selection process all over again, once the venue and surface for the tie are decided by November 9, as per the ITF deadline to Pakistan.