India is likely to send its Davis Cup team to Pakistan for the first time in 55 years as the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has hinted that the central government could allow the players to compete against the neighbouring nation in September.
No Indian Davis Cup squad has travelled to Pakistan since March 1964 and in that tie, held in Lahore, India had won 4-0.
“We have written to the government and hopefully we will go to Pakistan, that’s the impression we have,” AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI on Wednesday.
“It’s not a bilateral series, it’s (like) a World Cup, so the government will allow. I am confident we will go and play in Pakistan. We will announce it in a day or two. Pakistan Federation has mentioned that the tie will be played in Islamabad,” he added.
The last tie between the two nations was played in Mumbai in 2006, which India had won 3-2. The Indian team's current non-playing captain, Mahesh Bhupathi, was part of that team, which also featured the likes of Leander Paes, Prakash Amritraj and Rohan Bopanna. Prior to this tie, India had played Pakistan at a neutral venue in Malaysia in 1973.
While India boasts top singles players such as Prajnesh Gunneswaran ranked 94 in the world, and world number 154 Ramkumar Ramanathan, Pakistan is unlikely to pose any serious challenge as none of its singles singles players are listed on the ATP rankings.
Pakistan, though, have a good competitor in doubles specialist Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi. Bopanna and Qureshi have played as a team in the past and the Indo-Pak Express had tasted reasonable success.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president, Salim Saifullah, said that they will host India on grass courts of Pakistan Sports Complex. “We are hopeful of earning much-needed revenues for tennis during the live broadcast of the grass court tie as Pakistan and India sporting events garner a lot of interest,” he President said.
He added the PTF was confident that the Indian government would clear its team to play the tie in Islamabad. “It is after 13 years that Pakistan and India will meet on a tennis court,” he said.
Until last year, Pakistan was forced to host its Davis Cup ties at neutral venues as teams refused to travel to the country because of security concerns. But the scenario changed when Pakistan hosted Uzbekistan, Korea and Thailand in their previous ties.
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