India vs Pakistan, Davis Cup: Coach Zeeshan Ali to double up as non-playing captain in historic Islamabad tie
India's Davis Cup team faces a historic tie against Pakistan on February 2 and 3 in Islamabad, with coach Zeeshan Ali stepping in as the non-playing captain in place of Rohit Rajpal.
Zeeshan Ali, the coach of the Indian team, will take on the role of non-playing captain for the national Davis Cup team during its significant tie against Pakistan on February 2 and 3 in Islamabad. This decision comes after Rohit Rajpal was unable to accompany the team due to personal reasons, as confirmed by Anil Dhupar, the secretary general of the All India Tennis Federation (AITA). A PTI report suggested that Rajpal's absence from the trip to Pakistan stems from a family medical issue.
"Our non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal couldn't travel with the team due to some personal reasons. I am happy to inform that today we have appointed Zeeshan Ali, a very senior player, as the captain of the side," Dhupar told PTI on Tuesday in Islamabad. "He (Zeeshan) will be the captain for this tie and firmly believe that India would put up a strong performance under his captaincy in Pakistan."
After a gap of 60 years, the Indian Davis Cup team has made its way to Pakistan. The 10-member delegation, comprising five players, support staff, and coaches, arrived on Monday for the World Group 1 playoff tie scheduled between February 3-4. The matches will take place on the grass courts of Pakistan Sports Complex.
The last time the Indian Davis Cup team visited Pakistan was in 1964, where they secured a 4-0 victory in Lahore.
In 2019, India was slated to visit Pakistan for the Davis Cup tie, but due to diplomatic tensions between the two nations, the AITA successfully relocated the contest to a neutral venue, Kazakhstan.
With Sumit Nagal, the nation's top-ranked singles player, absent following his recent second-round performance at the Australian Open, along with Sasikumar Mukund withdrawing from the tie last month, the responsibility of leading the Indian contingent falls upon world No. 463 Ramkumar Ramanathan.
In addition to Mukund's absence, Yuki Bhambri, now primarily focusing on doubles, could step in for singles matches if needed.
Additionally, the Indian team includes N Sriram Balaji, Niki Poonacha, and Saketh Myneni. Digvijay Pratap Singh, who debuted against Morocco in India's previous Davis Cup assignment in Lucknow back in September, serves as the reserve player in the squad.
The Pakistan contingent's lineup features two 43-year-olds taking the forefront: Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, ranked World No. 127 in doubles, and Aqeel Khan, who boasts a history of playing numerous ITF tournaments in Indian cities even a decade and a half ago.
Additionally, 23-year-old Muzammil Murtaza, ranked 1679, will also be part of the team.