Shortly after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) confirmed India’s participation in the upcoming zonal Davis Cup tie in Pakistan last week, the team’s non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi is said to have written to the AITA citing security concerns among players. The governing body’s secretary general however, asserts that the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) recent survey of the venue in Islamabad, which produced satisfactory results in terms of the host nation’s security arrangements, will be sufficient for the travelling Indian team.
“The ITF requires many provisions for security and it’s all there in the Davis Cup manual,” explains Hironmoy Chatterjee, AITA secretary general. “It’s a world-wide scenario. Their rules are very stringent and they check every venue. Only after that will they clear a tie. So those checks are good.”
Following a two-day inspection in Islamabad last week, the two-man ITF team asserted their approval of the arrangements made for the tie.
“It is a normal routine for high profile Davis Cup ties and the one between Pakistan and India is not an ordinary one,” said ITF official Richard Gallagher to Pakistani newspaper ‘The News.’ His colleague Giles Robbins added: “We have visited all the places where the Indian team is to spend time. Since Pakistan has hosted a good number of ties in Islamabad, I believe the plan of the (Indian) team’s stay has been well prepared. We as security experts are satisfied with the arrangements.” After the AITA confirmed India’s participation, Bhupathi had written to the AITA highlighting concerns from the players.
“Mahesh wrote a mail to me a few days back asking if security arrangements were made,” he says. “It was a simple matter of a captain writing to his association general secretary. That’s all.”
In terms of the players’ concerns, Chatterjee asserted that none were made from the players themselves.
“When the AITA approached them to check their availability for the tie, they all said they were good to go, except Sumit Nagal who has an ankle injury,” Chatterjee says.
The five-man team, in the absence of Nagal, likely to be picked based on their respective world rank includes Prajnesh Gunneswaran (90), Ramkumar Ramanathan (182) and Saketh Myneni (264), along with doubles specialists Rohan Bopanna (45) and Divij Sharan (46).
Ever since the draw was made back in February, India’s participation in the tie has been a doubt, especially after the Pulwama terror attacks led to another political stand-off between the two neighbouring countries. The sports ministry, however, gave the AITA a go-ahead for the tie.
“We come under the sports ministry, and we have checked with them about going. They gave us the clearance so that’s fine for us,” Chatterjee adds.