Prakash-Paes saga continues

Updated on Feb 09, 2008 11:45 PM IST
Captain calls Amritraj "unprofessional" for going out last Saturday, Amritraj denies party had anything to do with stomach upset, reports Deepika Sharma.
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Hindustan Times | ByDeepika Sharma, New Delhi

INDIAN CAPTAIN Leander Paes stuck to his stand in the Prakash Amritraj situation on Friday.

On Thursday, Paes opted for Somdev Dev Varman ahead of Amritraj for the singles, saying the latter was recovering from a stomach ailment. Amritraj, however, maintained he was 100 per cent fit.

When asked about Amritraj's statements, Paes said: "People can claim what they want to. He (Amritraj) had seen the team doctor. He was not fit. He was throwing up all over the place. He went out on Saturday night, got 'Delhi Belly' and the next day he was ill.

Paes disapproved of Amritraj's going out on Saturday night.

"It was unprofessional on his part," he said.

"As a captain I need to make the calls," Paes said. "If your choice does not work, people will criticise you. As long as they are honest to the team and to me, I will respect them. Hopefully, Prakash will get over his Delhi Belly before tomorrow's doubles."

Paes didn't rule out the possibility of pairing Rohan Bopanna with Bhupathi on Saturday.

"I will speak to both Bhupathi and Rohan (Bopanna). Rohan is in really good form. He is ranked really high in the world doubles rankings," Paes said. "There will be a lot of conversations."

Amritraj said the Saturday night outing had nothing to do with the delicate condition of his stomach. He also pointed out that Rohan Bopanna accompanied him to the party and that they did not consume alcohol.

"Rohan and I went out together to give our best wishes to a friend," said Amritraj. "We did not have any alcohol and left early.

"Both of us practiced the next day. I had good sessions and felt absolutely fine."

Amritraj said his stomach took a turn for the worse not on Saturday but on Sunday night after a meal.

"I was fine till the time I ate something at my hotel on Sunday night. I saw the team doctor the next day and decided to skip practice," Prakash said. "Though I didn't feel too great on Tuesday, the next two days I felt fit and practiced for long sessions."

Asked why the captain had taken his stomach ailment so seriously, Amritraj said: "It is his judgment. He's the captain and I'm sure whatever he decides would be the best for the team."

'Prakash was recovering'

Coach Nandan Bal too said Amritraj had an upset stomach but he also said he had practiced hard the past couple of days.

"Prakash was surely recovering," said Bal. "He has practiced hard the past two days and I think he is fine now."

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