NUR-SULTAN (Kazakhstan), November 28: Formidable India are expected to demolish the challenge of a depleted Pakistan in a Davis Cup tie starting here on Friday, after the fixture was shifted to a neutral venue following a drama-filled build-up.
The uncertainty over the venue remained till the last moment and it only added to the confusion regarding players’ selection in both the sides.
Eventually, the International Tennis Federation moved the tie to Nur-Sultan after its independent tribunal rejected Pakistan Tennis Federation’s review appeal.
While it resolved the security concerns, the shifting of the tie did no good to the competition. India, with players of the caliber of Sumit Nagal, Ramkumar Ramanathan and veteran Leander Paes, were already expected to win easy but pulling out of Pakistan top players Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan has made it a no-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.
At least the doubles rubber would have been competitive if Pakistan’s top players were there but they chose not to play, protesting against shifting of the tie.
It will be a learning experience for Pakistan’s junior players, who will lead their country’s challenge in the tie, the winner of which will travel to Croatia in March 2020 for the World Group Qualifiers.
The tie will offer 46-year-old Paes a chance to further better his Davis Cup record for most doubles win. He stands on top with 43 wins, which he had achieved last year while playing against China.
A 44th win beckons Paes, the owner of 18 Grand Slam trophies, as he will be partnering Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who is set to make his Davis Cup debut.
The left-handed Chennai lad will become India’s 75th player to play a Davis Cup tie.
In-form Nagal has an opportunity to earn his first Davis Cup win as he has lost both his singles matches so far — against Spain (2016) and China (2018). (PTI)