The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has confirmed the Indian team’s participation in the Aisa/Oceania Group 1 away tie, which will be held on September 14-15 at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad. This is for the first time in 55 years, an Indian team will be travelling to Pakistan to participate in the Davis Cup tie.
“Yes, we will be going,” AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told The Indian Express. “It’s the World Cup of tennis and not a bilateral series, so there is no embargo on any front.”
India has disregarded most of the sporting events hosted by Pakistan for over a decade. The 2007 cricket tour to Pakistan was the last away sporting trip that India undertook.
Although, the Davis Cup draw was out in February, the Indian team’s possibility of making the trip looked slim because of the border tension which was escalated after the Pulwama attack. Last month, however, the ministry of sports made it clear that the decision to compete in the Davis Cup tie remained solely in the hands of the AITA.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior official had put the onus on AITA. “Sports ministry does not interfere in team selections, participation of tournaments or visits to countries by sportspersons,” he had said.
The Indian tennis federation waited for the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) examination of the venue and security arrangements in Pakistan before making its stand public. “The ITF had sent representatives to Islamabad on the 22nd of this month,” said Chatterjee.
“Once they cleared it, we sent our details to the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) so that they could issue the invitation letter. That letter has come, so we have started the visa application process. It takes about four to five weeks to complete the visa process,” he added.
India last played Pakistan in the Davis Cup in 2006, at the Barbourne Stadium in Mumbai, when the host achieved a 3-2 win to take India’s tally against Pakistan to 6-0.
Tennis Association is yet to put forth the final squad for the seventh meeting between the two neighbours. “The team will officially be announced later, and it will be based on rankings,” said Chatterjee. “But we more or less know the team.”
As currently drafted, Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi and coach Zeeshan Ali are likely to have India’s top three ranked men’s singles players, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal in the squad. The winner of the tie will register their spot in the World Group playoffs next year.