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Uncapped players in Davis Cup squad

Leander Paes has been named the Indian playing captain and will lead a young bunch that includes Vivek Shokeen, Karan Rastogi and Somdev Varman.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 19:41 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Uncapped Vivek Shokeen and Somdev Dev Varman were on Tuesday included in the Indian Davis Cup team for the Asia-Oceania Group 1 first round away tie against Uzbekistan in Namangan from February 9 to 11.

Leander Paes has been named the playing captain and will lead a young bunch that also includes Karan Rastogi and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya as the fifth player.

The inclusion of Shokeen and Somdev comes in the wake of Rohan Bopanna's pull out and injury to Prakash Amritraj.

"Bopanna spoke to me and expressed his wish to attempt to qualify for the Grand Slams in doubles this year. He has also got a doubles wild card for an event in Delray Beach (in Miami, USA) this week," Anil Khanna, Secretary-General of All India Tennis Association, told PTI following the announcement of the Indian squad here today.

With the team already missing the services of Mahesh Bhupathi, the withdrawal of Bopanna, very much an in-form player, is bound to leave a gaping hole since he also would have filled in as doubles partner for Paes.

Paes was pragmatic about the turn of events.

"Even with Rohan in the team, playing Uzbekistan in Uzbekistan is a tough proposition," the captain said.

"We have a fresh crop of players and my job is to motivate them and give them the best opportunity," Paes said.

"For me, it is not so much about this result as about trying to set up a team that can make it to the World Group in the future.

"Being near-sighted is not the way to go about it. We have to prepare these players overtime."

Paes said he will decide on who will play the singles and who will be his partner after reaching the venue and the final round of practice sessions.

"It is going to be interesting. Whomever I will be playing with, it will be the first time I will be partnering him," he said.

The lead up to the tie has been marred by the spat between Paes and Bhupathi.

Bhupathi declared during the Asian Games that he would never player for India as long as the team comprised Paes as captain and Nandan Bal was the coach.
Bal has been retained for the Uzbek tie and will have Sandeep Kirtane to assist him.

Dev Varman, 22, has been playing collegiate tennis in the US. The Assam-born youngster played one ITF event last year, but came through four qualifying rounds and reached the quarterfinals of a Futures event there earlier this month.

Besides, Dev Varman's favourite turf is also clay, the surface for the Uzbekistan tie.

Shokeen, 19, has just prgressed from the juniors to the seniors circuit.

First Published: Jan 30, 2007 19:37 IST