Former India player and chairman of the national tennis federation’s selection panel, Rohit Rajpal, was on Monday named India’s non-playing captain for the upcoming away Davis Cup tie against Pakistan.
There was speculation that veteran Leander Paes could be considered for the job after the 46-year-old made himself available following pullouts by top players and captain Mahesh Bhupathi.
The November 29-30 contest in Islamabad has already been rescheduled once owing to security concerns raised by India. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) decided to appoint Rajpal at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Chandigarh.
“Former President Anil Khanna and incumbent Praveen Mahajan proposed Rohit Rajpal’s name and everyone agreed. Rajpal will go to Pakistan as non-playing captain and this arrangement is only for this tie, as of now,” an AITA source said.
The AITA has requested the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to shift the tie to a neutral venue and the world governing body is likely to take a final decision later on Monday.
The tie was scheduled to be held in September but was delayed when India expressed concerns about the safety of their players due to the prevailing diplomatic tensions between the two nations.
The hostilities have heightened after Pakistan opposed India’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and turn it into a Union Territory.
Rajpal made his Davis Cup debut in 1990 against Korea in Seoul, where India suffered a 0-5 whitewash. That was the only time Rajpal represented the country, losing the dead fourth rubber 1-6 2-6 to Jae-Sik Kim.
It is the second big responsibility AITA has handed to the 48-year-old Rajpal, who was made the Chairman of five-man selection panel in November last year.
Rajpal, a member of the ruling BJP’s state unit, is also the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association President.
It has also been learnt that former skipper Anand Amritraj, who Bhupathi had replaced in the captain’s chair, was also interested in making a comeback to lead the side in Pakistan.
However, he wanted an assurance that if he is called back, it would be for at least a one or two-year term.
The source added that no other name was discussed for the job.
It will be interesting to see if Bhupathi, whose tenure has ended, will be brought back as captain or a new name will be considered.
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