Keeping in mind the fan support, India will have its second consecutive Davis Cup tie in the evening when the hosts challenge New Zealand in the Asia/Oceania Group I encounter, starting February 3 in Pune.
The singles matches on Friday will start at 3pm while the doubles rubber is scheduled for 6pm start. The reverse singles on Sunday will again start from 3pm.
During the World Group Play-off tie against Spain in September, the singles had started at 5pm and the doubles at 7pm at DLTA.
The players were consulted on the timing even as captain Anand Amritraj was not consulted since the AITA was not sure at that time whether he will continue in the post or not. “(Tournament Director) Sunder Iyer made this proposal of having matches in the evening so that more fans can come to the stadium and support the Indian team. The players were also asked by selection committee chairman SP Misra. We also asked the ITF. The temperature is not going to make much of a difference, so we gave a green signal to it,” AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.
Outgoing captain Amritraj said he was not consulted on the timing of the tie but it won’t make any difference in the outcome of the match. “February is such month that the timing won’t make a huge difference to the outcome of the match. It’s not Chennai heat in Pune. But personally, if I was playing, I would have liked to play in day,” Amritraj said adding that he was not consulted before finalising the timing.
Chatterjee asserted that it was AITA’s prerogative to decide on certain matters. “If we have matches in the evening, even people from Mumbai can come and go back after watching the matches. We want a full house when India play,” said another AITA official.
India coach Zeeshan Ali said to cash in on the home advantage, it’s a good idea to have matches in the evening. “In Pune in February, the temperature would not change much at 11am or 3pm. It would be 2-3 degrees more only. There is no advantage in playing during the day in this month. So we can bring in more people in the evening to the stadium,” Ali told PTI from Ooty.
“In a city like Pune, it matters. The city has not had a Davis Cup tie for long. People from close cities can also come and support us if we play in the evening,” said Ali.
AITA had sent out letters to players asking them about holding evening matches and most of them readily agreed on it.