A stone’s throw away, some of the gates of the football stadium are locked, but an announcer asks approximate 200 people inside – the Blue Pilgrims (the Barmy Army of the Indian national football teams) – to rise for the national anthem.
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.
The tie being moved to a neutral venue accentuates the gulf in class between the two teams. India’s star players had previously made it clear that they will be unavailable for the tie should it be held in Pakistan.
The tie had initially been scheduled for September in Islamabad, but due to security concerns, the Indian federation wrote to the ITF asking for the tie to be either shifted to a neutral venue or be delayed by two months.
The India-Pakistan tie had initially been scheduled for September in Islamabad but after AITA wrote to ITF asking for the tie to be shifted to a neutral venue, the tie was rescheduled for November 29-30.
Taking a set off Roger Federer at US Open might have been the highlight of Sumit Nagal’s year. But what defines 2019 for the young Indian tennis talent is the new-found maturity and poise in his game, as he remains grateful for staying injury-free and forging ahead with his furious forehand, finds The Indian Express
Before the tie had been declared shifted to a neutral venue, Bhupathi, along with Bopanna, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal had declared themselves unavailable for the tie in Pakistan due to security reasons.