ISLAMABAD: The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in a highly questionable move, has shifted Pakistan’s Davis Cup tie against arch-rivals India to a neutral venue in Kazakhstan, Where, the Pakistan versus India clash will take place today (Friday)
The tie-breaking match was earlier scheduled to be played in Islamabad, but will now be played on indoor hard courts due to sub-zero temperatures in the Kazakhstan capital of, Nur-Sultan.
The tie will now be played on Nov 29-30 but sans Pakistan’s top-ranked players Aisam-ul-Haq, Aqeel Khan and non-playing captain former Davis Cupper Mushaf Zia who have already announced not to participate in the contest as a protest against the ITF’s unjust decision.
Even though the Indian side already had an advantage, the pulling out of Pakistan’s Aisam ul Haq and Aqeel Khan has made it almost a non-contest.
The tie was scheduled to be played in Islamabad but the International Tennis Federation (ITF) shifted it to a neutral venue (Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan) sparking a new controversy that saw top Pakistani players boycotting the tie.
“I don’t see any reason for shifting the tie outside Pakistan. This is injustice to us,” Aisam ul Haq had said earlier when he announced to boycott the Davis Cup match against India.
Following the boycott by Aisam and Aqeel, the Pakistan Tennis Federation nominated junior players for the contest. While the Indian players have Grand Slam experience behind them, the Pakistanis are still struggling to make a mark even at the ITF Futures level.
The Pakistan will start off this much awaited Davis Cup tie as underdogs as the squad comprises of junior and inexperienced players.
On Friday, Pakistan’s Mohammad Shoaib will play the first rubber against India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan. The contest at the National Tennis Center will be the first taste of Davis Cup action for 17-year old Muhammad Shoaib.
Huzaifa Abdul Rehman will take on India’s Sumit Nagal in the second rubber on the opening day.
The duo of Huzaifa and Shoaib will face experienced Laender Paes and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in doubles’ contest on Saturday before reverse singles.