In 1991, Sri Lanka took on Syria in a Group 2 zonal Davis Cup tie. The hosts then went on to win the tie 5-0, and over the five rubbers, conceded just six games in total. For 28 years, that tie gave the Sri Lankans the most decisive win there has ever been in Davis Cup history. But this Saturday, the Indians are poised to break that mark.
The apparent gap in experience and class between the Indian outfit competing against Pakistan in the Group 1 tie in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan has manifested in the way world no 176 Ramkumar Ramanathan and world no 131 Sumit Nagal stormed past their unranked 17-year-old opponents.
In the opening rubber, Ramkumar recorded a 6-0, 6-0 win, in 42 minutes, over Pakistan’s playing captain Muhammad Shoaib. In the second match, Nagal took 64 minutes to win 6-0, 6-2 against Huzaifa Abdul Rehman.
What a start to our @DavisCup tie against Pakistan. Top performances by @ramkumar1994 and @nagalsumit today to give us a 2-0 lead. Can’t wait to get on court tomorrow with @JeevanN2010🎾Thank you to everyone who came out to support 🇮🇳 @ITF_Tennis #DavisCup #IndvsPak pic.twitter.com/zp9qADwSJ2
— Leander Paes (@Leander) November 29, 2019
“I was trying really hard to match Ram’s score. That was one of my goals,” Nagal said after winning his first ever Davis Cup match in three ties. “I went with the mentality that I want to win this match 6-0, 6-0, but (Rehman) did play well in a few of the games, so I have to give it to him.”
With India leading 2-0 at the end of the first day, the onus now lies on Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Leander Paes to finish the tie in the doubles rubber on Saturday, and perhaps even go for the record of most decisive Davis Cup win when they face the team of Shoaib and Rehman.
The result of this tie was a foregone conclusion, even if the scoreline exceeded expectations.
Since the tie was shifted to a neutral venue, Pakistan’s old warhorses Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan decided to boycott the tie in protest. As a result, Pakistan was forced to field three Davis Cup debutants – all university students with little to no experience of playing at a high level.
Pakistan too has set a new Davis Cup record with this tie, with the 17-year-old Shoaib becoming the youngest ever to captain a Davis Cup side. The record was previously held by American Maurice McLoughlin, who at 19 had captained the United States against Australasia in 1909.
If India does go on to break Sri Lanka’s record, which in all likeliness may just happen, then both teams records will have an asterisk against it.