Regular-article-logo Friday, 22 September 2023

Leander Paes returns, Mahesh Bhupathi ‘ignored’

Paes had last played for India against China in April 2018, when he won the history-creating doubles match

Elora Sen Calcutta Published 14.11.19, 08:25 PM
Leander Paes

Leander Paes Telegraph file picture

The venue has not yet been selected, with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) due to deliberate on the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF)’s appeal, but the All India Tennis Association has made its intention clear and declared the team for the Asia/Oceania Group 1 match versus Pakistan, to be held on November 29-30.

And making a return to the squad after more than a year is the iconic Leander Paes, who had over the years made a Davis Cup slot his very own. This time, however, more than his incredible Davis Cup record, what earned him a berth was his willingness to travel to Pakistan, especially when the originally selected players, along with captain Mahesh Bhupathi, had made it clear that they were uncomfortable about travelling to Islamabad.


Paes had last played for India against China in April 2018, when he won the history-creating doubles match. Paes had notched up his 43rd Davis Cup victory to become the most successful player in the history of the tournament as India had sealed the World Group play-off with a 3-2 win.

On Thursday afternoon, the AITA selection committee chose Sumit Nagal, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Saketh Myneni, Rohan Bopanna and Paes, with chairman of the selection committee Rohit Rajpal being the non-playing captain. Rajpal, whose appointment was made on November 6 replacing Bhupathi, excused himself from chairing Thursday’s meeting and that role was played by Balram Singh.

The AITA has also named three reserve players — Sasi Kumar Mukund, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Siddharth Rawat.

This was done keeping in mind that neither the venue nor the surface has been decided. The ITF is set to give a final decision by November 18.

Coach Zeeshan Ali told The Telegraph: “I am very happy with the team. Prajnesh (Gunneswaran) and Divij (Sharan) could not make it as they are getting married around the same time as the tie. But it is heartening to see other players making themselves available for the important fixture.”

The original team had Prajnesh, Ramkumar, Bopanna, Sharan and Saketh Myneni, with Sasi Kumar Mukund as a reserve.

So essentially, only Bhupathi has been done away with. “I had expected it,” Bhupathi said on Thursday. Asked if he had any comments on the new team, his reply was a firm “no”.

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