Davis Cup: Rohit Rajpal non-playing captain for Pakistan tie
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Monday named former Davis Cupper Rohit Rajpal as the non-playing captain of the Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie against Pakistan. The team will be formally announced in the coming few days.
The decision to replace Mahesh Bhupathi as the non-playing captain was taken in the AGM held in Chandigarh on Monday. Bhupathi along with other top players have decided not to travel to Pakistan because of security concerns.
Rajpal, who made his Davis Cup debut for India against South Korea in 1990, is also the chairman of the AITA’s selection panel. He will now have the tricky task of convincing the players to travel to Islamabad for the Nov 29-30 tie .
“It’s a challenging tie and not easy playing in the current situation. The idea is to motivate the players to rise up to the challenge, be there and perform for the country. We have a pool of players who have made themselves available for the tie and we will get the best team together. AITA is in constant touch with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) but we are mentally prepared to go to Pakistan,” Rajpal, 49, said.
The tie in Islamabad was initially scheduled for September but was deferred to November 29-30 by the ITF after an appeal from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) which raised security concerns.
It has been reliably learnt that many top players are still cagey about travelling to Pakistan, with Rohan Bopanna and a few others making their objections clear. But in a major boost, Leander Paes has made himself available for the tie.
“It’s natural for players and their families to be concerned about security given the backdrop. I will speak to all the players tomorrow and try and understand their issues. As far as I am concerned I come from a batch where you made yourself available when the country calls you. Having someone like Paes, the greatest Davis cupper, in the pool is a major boost for the team,” Rajpal added.
While former captain Anand Amritraj was also very much interested in taking up the job again but wanted to be assured of a longer term. Rajpal said the tie on grass court will be tricky as players these days don’t get to play much on it.