Veteran Mahesh Bhupathi’s name has cropped up as a possible candidate for Davis Cup captaincy, but beleaguered Anand Amritraj has sought one more term and his fate will be decided when AITA Executive Committee discusses changes in support staff on Friday.
AITA is keen to replace Amritraj before the next tie against New Zealand, scheduled for February 3-5 in Pune, as the national federation feels he has failed to impose discipline in the team even as the players want him to continue in the job.
Both Amritraj and coach Zeeshan Ali’s terms are up for review by the Executive Committee, the members of which will have consultations via conference call, while the S P Misra-led selection committee will meet to pick the team for the Asia/Oceania Group I tie.
Both Amritraj and Zeeshan had joined the side as support staff in 2013, replacing Misra and Nandan Bal respectively after a players’ revolt, led by Somdev Devvarman.
“Neither Ramesh Krishnan nor Nandan Bal is in race to become captain as reported earlier. Mahesh is a possible candidate for captaincy,” an AITA source said.
“Amritraj told AITA that he wants to lead the side for one more year and his proposal will also be discussed at the meeting,” the source added.
Bhupathi has played in 35 Davis Cup ties for India and the last time he featured in a tie was in 2011 when he competed against Japan in a World Group Play-off tie in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, insiders say Somdev, who has not played competitive tennis for a while, has shown interest in becoming the coach of the side in place of Zeeshan.
“Yes, Somdev has thrown his hat into the ring for the coach’s position. Now, committee will decide if Mahesh and Somdev can be installed as new support staff members,” the source said.
It was reported that AITA was keen to bring back the legendary Ramesh Krishnan. However, Krishnan, who twice reached the quarterfinals of the US Open (1981, 1987) and once at Wimbledon (1986) said “he has not been approached by the AITA” for the job as yet.
“I have not got any offer so far,” Krishnan, who captained the side in 2007, said.
Bal’s name was also doing the rounds for the captaincy but he has also not been contacted by any AITA official so far.
Meanwhile, Yuki Bhambri, who missed both the 2016 Davis Cup ties against Korea and Spain due to tennis elbow injury, is set to make a comeback, having made a recovery.
AITA prefers three singles players in the side and that means the line-up would be Saketh Myneni, Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan.
Yuki last played a Davis Cup tie against Czech Republic in September 2015 and his ranking has plummeted to 534 after missing on-court action in 2016 season.
The fight for the lone doubles spot will be between Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna. Sources say, Paes will be preferred over Bopanna, who had missed out on the Spain tie due to injury.