Davis Cup: Top Pakistan players over-reacted by pulling out, says Zeeshan Ali

Coach Zeeshan Ali said top Pakistan players Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan "over-reacted" by pulling out of the Davis Cup tie against India.

File photo of Aisam Qureshi (right) of Pakistan and Prakash Amritraj during a Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group I tie in 2006.   -  Vivek Bendre

Top Pakistan players Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan “over-reacted” by pulling out of the Davis Cup tie against India, said coach Zeeshan Ali on Friday and questioned why they did not boycott their earlier matches at neutral venues.

After much suspense over the venue for the Asia/Oceania tie, the ITF finally moved the matches out of Islamabad on November 4.

The decision did not go down well with the top Pakistan players and they decided not to compete in Nur-Sultan against India. The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) was left with no option but to pick its junior players, offering the tie to India on a platter.

“I feel Aisam and Aqeel just over-reacted by deciding not to play this tie. They did not need to do it. It’s the ITF which moved the tie out of Islamabad, though we had our reasons to request ITF the same,” Zeeshan told PTI after a practice session here.

“You cannot have a tie when the players are packed in a bus and escorted by some 40 armoured vehicles. Is that a suitable environment for sport?,” he asked referring to the security arrangements made by Pakistan for the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team recently.

Since 2017, Pakistan hosted four Davis Cup teams and Hong Kong was the only team which decided against travelling to Islamabad.

Read: Pakistan picks two 17-year-olds for India tie

“What about previous ties? Why the teams were not travelling there. We would also have gone and played but ITF also felt that it was a good decision to move the tie out of Pakistan.

“And why Aisam and Aqeel did not boycott when their other ties were moved out of their country? Why this particular tie?” Zeeshan asked.

In the absence of top players, Pakistan has fielded its junior players. Teenagers Huzaifa Abdul Rehman and Shoiab Khan will now lead their challenge. They are both 17 year-olds ranked 446 and 1004 respectively in the junior ITF ranking list.

Even with top players, Pakistan was not a match to India and now it has become a completely lop-sided tie in India’s favour.

Will an easy win give India satisfaction?

“We wanted a good tie but what can we do if their top players are not coming? A win is a win, irrespective of the players fielded by a nation,” said India skipper Rohit Rajpal.

“We were even ready to go to Pakistan. What else we can do? The conditions will be very harsh in Nur Sultan. I don’t remember when India last played in such extreme conditions when the temperature is minus 25,” he added.

Zeeshan said countering such conditions won’t be easy.

“The body takes longer to reach the optimum level in such weather conditions. You don’t even know that you have pulled your muscle even after 20 minutes into practice. So proper warm-up and proper cool down can’t be compromised,” he said.

“That’s why we are taking two physios with us,” added Rajpal.