The All India Tennis Association's plan to keep Prakash Amritraj amongst the selection pool for Davis Cup has been held back with the sports ministry firmly asserting on Wednesday that only Indian citizens can represent the nation.
In response to a news report in the Hindustan Times about the national body's plans to consider Amritraj for selection, the ministry said on Wednesday: "The ministry has however again examined the issue and reiterates its view that a person can represent India in any international competition only if s/he is an Indian passport holder."
"We have issued a clarification to all the National Sports Federations (NSFs), saying that anybody who has an Indian passport is eligible to play for India, otherwise not. If Prakash Amritraj has an Indian passport, he can play," sports secretary PK Deb told PTI.
The AITA does not see the ministry's stance as a setback to its plans. "I would see it this way, that we will not be able to avail Prakash Amritraj's services. He is in form and in good shape. He is a much better player than he was two years ago and at the moment he's better than many who we were considering for selection," AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.
As to the misunderstanding about Amritraj's eligibility, Chatterjee told HT, "There was some ambiguity on the issue and today the ministry has clarified it."
Not a problem
He went on to add that the federation is not going to have any problem picking a squad.
"There are at least eight players, if not more, who are available for selection. We won't have any problem picking a team."
It has been reliably learnt that the minister himself intervened on Wednesday to end any misunderstanding on the issue. With the ineligibility of Amritraj, the AITA will have trouble fielding a quality team if the rebellious top-rung of Indian tennis stays away.