Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi have previously played together before and ardent followers of the sport have dubbed them the Indo-Pak express. Now, they are very likely to play against each other as the Indian Davis Cup team was drawn to meet Pakistan in an away tie. It has since been announced by the Pakistan media quoting the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF). They have reportedly announced hosting India in a high-profile Davis Cup Group I tie at the Pakistan Sports Complex Grass Courts on September 14-15. The draw in question is scheduled to be held in September.
The PTF Chief was quoted by The News as saying, “The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has acknowledged Pakistan’s surge to the top in Asia and thus has included the team amongst the best in the continent. The leading teams in Asia will have the opportunity to make it to the World Group.”
The Central Government of India’s mandates on sports team traveling to the neighbour country remain strict wherein they are barred. When the PTF chief was asked about this, he was quoted as saying, “Pakistan would be declared winners automatically as in the new format skipping or making one excuse or the other to stay away from the tie results in serious consequences.”
AITA (All India Tennis Association), on their part, have made it clear that they plan to approach the government to make an exception. “AITA does not have a choice. We have to follow the government policy. We will speak to the government to know. They have not allowed any sports team to travel to Pakistan,” AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.
The last time an Indian Davis Cup team travelled to Pakistan was in March 1964. The tie was held in Lahore and it had seen India beat the team from Pakistan 4-0.
The last time the two nations had played was in Mumbai in 2006, a tie that once again saw the Indian Davis Cup team win 3-2. Incidentally, current non-playing captain, Mahesh Bhupathi was part of the squad.
Mahesh Bhupathi seemed pretty pleased with the tie and saw it as an opportunity for India to capitalise on. “It’s a good draw for us with the depth in our team. We are looking forward to winning and getting back to the World Group Play-offs (Qualifier) again,” Bhupathi told PTI.
The winner of the tie in September will move to the Davis Cup World Group Qualifiers.
India coach Zeeshan Ali said to PTI, “We know Pakistan players well. I am confident that with the team we have now and the way our players are playing and improving their rankings, we definitely hold the upper hand.”