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India favourite against Pakistan in historic Davis Cup tie

After 60 years, the Indian team will play their World Group 1 playoff Davis Cup tie against Pakistan in Islamabad.

India favourite against Pakistan in historic Davis Cup tie

Indian Davis Cup team will take on Pakistan in World Group 1 Play-off Davis Cup tie.


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 3 Feb 2024 5:17 AM GMT

The Indian Davis Cup team will enter the historic Davis Cup World Group 1 play-off tie against Pakistan as the overwhelming favourite. India has never lost to Pakistan in Davis Cup history, winning all seven ties so far, and the trend is likely to continue.

Pakistan will play the tie on grass courts, with its biggest and most experienced stars, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan, joining the side.

If Pakistan stood a chance against India, it had to be on the grass courts because both Aisam and Aqeel are tremendous fighters, and this surface brings the best out of them.

For India, N Sriram Balaji and Rankumar Ramanathan will play singles matches. Despite being a doubles specialist, Balaji will play singles due to the fast nature and low bounce on the Islambad courts.

Also, Balaji has the experience of playing at a good level and that will give him the confidence to handle the pressure of playing against Pakistan on its home soil.

He recently played at the Australian Open and had a one-week camp in New Delhi, before arriving in Islamabad, which would have also made him sharper and ready for the singles challenge.

"I have shifted to doubles in the last couple of years but that does not mean I am away from singles. I am practicing singles whenever I can. When I get the opportunity to play Challengers I do play, so I am excited to play against Pakistan," he said.

Currently one of India's best singles players, Ramkumar will look to use his strength of playing on grass courts. His career-best result is making it to the ATP250 final in Newport which also came on grass courts.

Ramkumar will open the tie for India with a clash against 43-year-old Aisam, who said he is "younger at heart."

India's non-playing captain Zeeshan Ali felt that it would be a close tie and refused to engage in debate on why the Indian cricket team or other Indian athletes do not travel to Pakistan for competitions.

"We are here to play tennis. Certain decisions are taken by the government and we have no role in that. We have come prepared, and we have a job to do," he said, acknowledging the warm hospitality the host has offered to the Indian team.

Pakistan has nominated Barkatullah and Muzammil Murtaza to take on Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni in the doubles.

Teams can change nominations on the morning of the match. If It is 1-1 on day one, Aisam and Aqeel may play the doubles as well, as they have done well in the past.

Pakistan is playing in home conditions but not many home fans will be there to cheer them as ITF has allowed only 500 guests and fans to watch the action unfold at Islamabad Sports Complex.

Draw for India v Pakistan tie:

February 3:

1st singles: Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi

2nd singles : Aqeel Khan vs Sriram Balaji

February 4:

Doubles: Barkatullah/Muzammil Murtaza vs Yuki Bhambri/Saketh Myneni

1st reverse singles: Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Aqeel Khan

2nd singles: Aisam ul haq Qureshi vs Sriram Balaji.

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