New Delhi: India coach Zeeshan Ali feels that India have a good chance of toppling South Korea in the Davis Cup tie beginning Friday despite the absence of nearly a dozen top-ranked players.
Appointed the coach despite opposition from a section of the players, who decided not to make themselves available for the tie, Zeeshan on Sunday began his stint with a bunch of youngsters, who had never played a Davis Cup tie before.
Barring Leander Paes, the three other members of the squad — VM Ranjith (517), Vijayant Malik (541) and Purav Raja (155 in doubles) — have made the cut because of the players’ boycott. Yet, Zeeshan remains enthusiastic about an encouraging Indian performance in the weekend.
Paes and Raja were not present in Sunday’s practice session but Zeeshan spent a gruelling four-hour session with Ranjith, Malik and two reserve players, Arjun Khade and Aswin Vijayaraghavan. Paes will join the squad on Tuesday, non-playing captain SP Mishra said.
“Don’t judge them by their rankings,” Zeeshan told The Telegraph. “They are an enthusiastic lot, pumped up and eager to show their talent and capable of delivering the goods. It is time for the young players to take over and I am sure they will prove themselves.”
On the South Korea tie, Zeeshan, a former national champion and Davis Cupper said, rankings do not count much in Davis Cup. “We often get to see results that do not go with the rankings. It’s an open tie, we have every chance of winning,” said Zeeshan.
South Koreans are already in the capital and have started practising. Based on rankings, they are slightly better than the hosts. Suk Young Jeong is the highest ranked player at 338, followed by Yong Kyu Lim (439) and Ji Sung Nam (485).
“There is not much difference between the two teams except the Korean players have more Davis Cup experience,” said Mishra.
The continuation of Mishra as the non-playing captain was one of the reasons that prompted top players like Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Dev Varman to stay away from the tie. But Mishra was still confident that rebel players would change their mind return to play for the national team in the next outing.
“I decided to step down, but AITA wanted me to continue,” said Mishra. “In the next tie, we either play Japan or Indonesia at home. I am sure the senior players would come back by then,” he said.