Follow Us:
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Believe am still the captain: Mahesh Bhupathi on Davis Cup captaincy for Pakistan tie being revoked

Mahesh Bhupathi was stripped of captaincy with the excuse that he was uncomfortable traveling to Pakistan. The Indian tennis star responds 'I love the country'.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: November 6, 2019 12:51:16 pm
Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna expressed their displeasure with AITA handling the matter. (Source: Tony O’Brien)

Hours before the International Tennis Federation decided to shift the venue of Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan to a neutral venue, Mahesh Bhupathi was stripped of the team’s captaincy. Bhupathi tweeted Wednesday that he was told that he was stripped of the post because he was uncomfortable about travelling to the neighbouring country, but claimed that he ‘loves’ Pakistan. He said he still believed he was the captain until told otherwise.

Former India player and chairman of the national tennis federation’s selection panel, Rohit Rajpal, was on Monday named India’s non-playing captain. However, the decision did not go down well with a lot of players. Rohan Bopanna openly expressed his displeasure at players not being consulted.

Bhupathi broke his silence with a tweet in which he said that he received a phone call from All India Tennis Association (AITA) Secretary-General Hironmoy Chatterjee on Monday. Bhupathi said he was told that Rajpal was replacing him due to his hesitation in travelling to Pakistan.

“To everyone so concerned for my thoughts and comments. All I know is from a phone call with Mr. Chaterjee on Monday where I was told that Rohit is replacing me as Captain because I wasn’t comfortable going to Pakistan (love the country been there before – not this time),” he tweeted.

“I have not heard from the AITA since Monday or after the ITF addressed the players concerns on venue and approved a neutral location – so I am available and believe in am still Captain unless I hear otherwise! Glad to “comment” when I know what I know,” Bhupathi said in a second tweet.

Earlier, Bopanna had criticised the AITA’s decision. “It surprises me that AITA changed the Davis Cup captain before ITF announced the final decision yesterday (04.11.19) and where the tie would be held,” Bopanna tweeted. “What shocks me more that none of the players were asked or even informed that the captain was going to be changed,” Bopanna wrote.

Responding to Bopanna’s comments, AITA Secretary-General Hironmoy Chatterjee said the players’ job is to play and not interfere in administrative matters.

“They are behaving according to their convenience. They have no right to ask question on areas which are outside players’ domain. Their job is to play. Who is he (Bopanna) to ask such questions? There is (AITA) administration to look into these matters,” Kolkata-based Chatterjee told PTI.

For me, it’s a very shocking, embarrassing, disgraceful and unfair: Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi

The International Tennis Federation shifted that India’s upcoming Group 1 Asia/Oceania Davis Cup tie against Pakistan, originally scheduled to be held in Islamabad, after objections raised by India.

Bhupathi, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, who was appointed non-playing captain in 2017, along with players Rohan Bopanna, Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan had made themselves unavailable for the tie should it take place in Pakistan, citing security concerns.

Pakistan are expected to submit their request for potential venue in the coming week. In the past, Pakistan has hosted Davis Cup matches in the likes of Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Turkey, due to a 12-year ban the ITF had imposed on them due to security reasons.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App.