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AITA retains Paes as captain of team

Earlier, top players including Mahesh Bhupathi, refused to play in tie against Japan starting April 11, if Paes remains the team captain.

sports Updated: Feb 29, 2008 16:15 IST

The All India Tennis Association on Thursday sought to buy more time to resolve an unprecedented revolt by top players against captain Leander Paes by deferring to take a decision on the vexed issue.

The AITA officials, who met for an emergency meeting to discuss the revolt which has rocked Indian tennis, decided to retain the same Davis Cup team for the tie against Japan starting April 11, which means that Paes will continue to remain the captain.

The game's governing body promised to talk to the revolting players and hear out their grievances before taking a final decision, expected only after the Beijing Olympics in August.

Top Davis Cuppers -- Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and Karan Rastogi -- recently wrote a letter to the AITA refusing to play under Paes as they had lost confidence in his leadership. They accused Paes of criticising team members in the media and not communicating with them during Davis Cup ties.

Rastogi, however, backed out of the revolt a few days back.

"Time is too short to consider any issue they like to raise. It is required to talk to the players and selection committee.

"The Japan tie is coming up on April 11 and the committee felt we should not be talking this till the Challengers in May, when all the players will be here," AITA Secretary General Anil Khanna told a press conference after the meeting.

"We can discuss what are the real issues. Sensitivity of the players is required till then," he said.

"The letter has been put into abeyance, but not ignored. The demands will be considered, the players will be spoken to," Khanna said.

The AITA also decided to form a two-member committee, comprising Bharat Ojha and Hiranmoy Chatterjee, to look into the issue.

The panel will make its recommendations to the AITA's Executive Committee and a final decision will be taken only after the Olympics.

The AITA decided to appoint S P Mishra as the manager of the Davis Cup team for the tie against Japan so there was no lack of communication among the team members. The manager will be assisted by Col Randhir Chauhan, who has been appointed media manager.

The members of the selection committee were also invited to attend the emergency meeting. The panel recommended that Paes should continue to be the captain for the tie against Japan and made no changes to the team which will consist of Bhupathi, Amritraj, Bopanna and Somdev Dev Varman. Two stand-bye players will be selected later.

The selectors will also talk to the revolting players between today and tomorrow morning and they have been requested not to express their feelings to the media.

The AITA also requested Bhupathi and Paes to play together in the Beijing Olympics to brighten India's chances for a medal.