After much ado about nothing, this month’s India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie has been shifted from Islamabad to a neutral venue. Acting upon the advice given by their independent security advisors, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Monday put out a statement declaring its decision. The statement read:
Initially scheduled to be held from September 14-15 in Islamabad, the Asia/Oceania Group I tie between the two neighbouring countries was postponed by the ITF to November 29-30 following a security review. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had, on their part, requested the world body to shift the tie to a neutral venue.
“The ITF and Davis Cup Committee’s first priority has always been the safety of athletes, officials and spectators and the decision was made on this basis,” the statement added. As per regulations, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) need to confirm a proposed neutral venue within five working days.
Where does this leave Leander Paes?
As per reports from a couple of weeks back, 46-year-old Leander Paes was all set to make a comeback to the Indian team after more than a year. Not only that, he was in line to be named captain after non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi and star doubles player Rohan Bopanna both refused to play in Islamabad — citing concerns over security.
Apart from Bhupathi and Bopanna, top singles players Ramkumar Ramanathan, Sumit Nagal and Sasi Kumar Mukund were also not too keen on making the trip across the border. Under the circumstances, the AITA was forced to fall back on Paes, who had made himself available for selection.
However, now with the tie being relocated, it remains to be seen whether Bhupathi, Bopanna and the rest are called back. And if they are called back, will Paes make his much-anticipated comeback? Or will he have to wait longer?