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US citizen set to represent India in the Davis Cup

sports Updated: Jan 09, 2013 13:51 IST
Sukhwant Basra

It appears that despite being a US citizen, Prakash Amritraj is set to play for India again. In a move which was predicted by HT over a week ago, the national tennis federation approached the sports ministry to field Amritraj and has also got the necessary clearance.

AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee, surprisingly candid for an official from the body, confirmed the development. "Yes, we approached the ministry and he's been allowed to play."

Sports secretary PK Deb did not clarify as to whether the then sports minister MS Gill's 2009 order, stating that only Indian passport holders would be allowed to represent the nation, has been rescinded.

He did, however, clear the air on Amritraj. "We have merely clarified to the AITA that selection of teams is their prerogative and we have no comments to offer on that score. We have further advised that if Prakash Amritraj is played, he will not be eligible for government funding," said the secretary.

No funding issue
For Chatterjee, the funding issue is no hassle. "The Davis Cup is organised by us at no cost to the government. He also does not want to avail of any government funds. We are quite clear that we will pick the team from players who have sent us their availability," he said.

It has been learnt that Amritraj is more than willing to play under the Indian flag. The 29-year-old is presently ranked 423 in the world and displayed some good form in his run at the Chennai Open.

On the issue of Rajeev Ram (28-years-old, 131 in world singles) also playing for India, Chatterjee said, "I won't like to share that at the moment."

This development explains the federation's hardened stance against the players who have rebelled against its manner of functioning.

The interesting bit is that Amritraj will be going against his good friends Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna along with whom he had rebelled against this very federation's choice of captain - Leander Paes - in 2008.

Paes, who has kept quiet on this issue, is slated very much to be a part of the team.

Calling others
Meanwhile, the AITA has been calling all the other players beyond the rebelling eight to ascertain their availability for the tie.

Somdev Devvarman, on the other hand, has written to the players to stay united against the federation. He has not only written to the ones who have risen up in revolt but also to the next lot that AITA is looking to tap.

The AITA had whole-heartedly backed then minister Gill's ruling on players sans Indian passports. It has done a quick about-face now.

The BCCI does not take any government funding. The Indian cricket team has been struggling for a decent pace battery for some time now.

If it was to use AITA's logic, why not just import some from across the border since Pakistan seems to have enough to spare?