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India draw Pakistan in Davis Cup, PTF rejects neutral venue | Tennis News

India have been drawn to play Pakistan in the World Group I Play-offs and the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) on Thursday made it clear that it won’t agree to shift their home tie to a neutral venue this time. India had drawn Pakistan in 2019 also but due to “security concerns” the Asia/Oceania Group I tie was shifted to Kazakhstan, a neutral venue.

The Indian Davis Cup team pose for a photograph.(TWITTER/ITD)
The Indian Davis Cup team pose for a photograph.(TWITTER/ITD)

As a mark of protest, Pakistan’s top players Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan had opted not to play the tie in which rookies Mohammed Shoaib, Huzaifa Abdul Rehman and Yousaf Khalil competed for them. India had expectedly thrashed a weak Pakistan line-up 4-0. In a lop-sided contest, Pakistan won only seven games in the entire tie.

The ITF had agreed to shift the tie to a neutral venue in 2019 but it will be very tough for AITA to convince the world governing body if the national federation pushes for a neutral venue. Pakistan’s veteran player Aqeel Khan told PTI that they are hoping for the Indian team to travel to their nation.

“I hope they come and give us a chance to host,” Aqeel, 43, said.

Qureshi said, “Hopefully this time it will be played in Pakistan.”

Pakistan last week beat Indonesia 4-0 at home in the World Group II tie, played on grass courts in Islamabad with Aqeel winning a singles and the doubles rubber. PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan said they will host India on grass court.

“They should come to Pakistan. It’s not fair that they do not come to Pakistan. The Indian team is much better than us. We have a beautiful hotel just across the stadium. If Indians come it will send a good message that we are good neighbours,” Saifullah Khan told PTI.

If India decide to travel, it will be the Davis Cup team’s first visit across the border in 59 years, and only third in the history of the team tournament. The last time an Indian Davis Cup team travelled to Pakistan was in 1964 when the visitors beat the hosts 4-0.

Ramanathan Krishan had led the first team from India, which travelled to Pakistan in 1962. Pakistan have visited India three times, but India have never lost to them in eight Davis Cup ties between the two countries.

“We have hosted Lithuania, Slovekia, Korea, Iran, Thailand. All these countries have come and there have been no issues.

“We won’t play on a neutral venue. If India does not want to come, we will not play this tie. We will play on grass courts and the Indians are a better team. And in February-March, the weather is lovely in Islamabad,” Saifullah said.

Asked if the Indian team will travel to Pakistan, All India Tennis Association (AITA) Secretary General Anil Dhupar told PTI, “It’s too early to comment.”

“We are yet to receive a letter from ITF. After getting that, we will seek clearance from the External Affairs Ministry like the last time,” Dhupar said from Cancun, Mexico where he has gone to attend the ITF AGM.

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