After weeks of controversy and speculation, a broken Indian Davis Cup team came together in a pre-draw press conference ahead of the Japan tie on Wednesday.
Under-fire captain Leander Paes spoke at length with rebels Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj sharing the dais with him. Harsh Mankad, the reserve player, was also present at the media briefing.
Paes, who had not spoken about the controversy till now, said that his team has put behind all the differences to put their “best foot forward” against Japan.
“Our strength is that we have put our differences behind us,” said Paes.
“In life we all go through ups and downs. A little bit of ego is good for every team. If there is unhappiness then we have to resolve it.”
Paes said that he had faith that the team would deliver.“The Japanese team has more depth this time. I have played them many times. The last time we were beaten 3-2 and that really hurt. But I have full faith in my team. The boys have been working very hard,” said Paes.
Asked if he would play a singles match, Paes said,“In the past, I have been asked to step up and play the deciding match."
“If there is someone who is injured during the tie then I will step up but I am not too sure since I have not played too many singles matches on the Tour recently. Anyway, consensus will be reached in the team meeting."
Keeping in mind the friction in the team due to the team members’ revolt against his captaincy, Paes said he would only step down if the All India Tennis Association (AITA) asks him to do so.
“Whether I should step down is a question you should ask the AITA. They have nominated me as the captain.”
Amritraj, who was unhappy with Paes’ decision to keep him out of the Uzbekistan tie after he felt unwell, said he would like to move on.
“I don’t want to have any regrets. Whatever has happened is the past and I want to move on now,” said Amritraj.
Bhupathi too said that they were mentally prepared to play the tie.“From a month back, we knew we would play this tie and we are not here just to make up the numbers,” he said.