IF THERE is one man who desperately wants to play Friday's Asia-Oceania zone Davis tie against Uzbekistan, it is India's non-playing captain Leander Paes. At a press conference on Wednesday, when asked about whom he would pick for the first day, an injured Paes said given a chance he would choose himself. "I wish I could play. But unfortunately, I'm injured," he said. "I played frisbee and did some running today at practice, but I could still feel a niggle," he added.
"We will pick the best players for the tie."
This would be the first time in Paes's glorious Davis Cup career that he would play the role of a non-playing captain.
Asked about India's preparations and how ready the team was, Paes said his team was all set. "We had a few obstacles initially but now everyone is ready. The boys are fit and geared up for the tie." When asked about what obstacles he was referring to, the seven-time Grand Slam champion said: "I will leave it to your imagination."
The Indian team also paid a quick visit to the centre court at the DLTA facility. "There's a lot of grass on that court. We took a good look at it and we are planning our strategies accordingly," Paes said.
Paes also said that the controversy surrounding Sania Mirza would not affect the Indian camp. "It has nothing to do with the Davis Cup. I am engrossed in helping my team. It really doesn't bother us."
The other experienced player, Mahesh Bhupathi, who had missed the previous two Davis Cup ties, said he was happy to be back. "It feels good to be back. I am here because I want to play the Olympics," Bhupathi said.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin said he was ready to play all three days and the team's grasscourt shoes were ready. "I am most likely to play all the day's including doubles match. We are ready to win," said Istomin.