Indo-Pak Davis Cup tie shifted to ‘neutral’ venue

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MUMBAI: India’s Davis Cup tie against Pakistan at Islamabad this month must be played at a neutral venue after the latest advice from the International Tennis Federation’s independent security advisors, the world governing body said on Monday.

The Asia/Oceania Group I tie, originally scheduled for September 14-15 in Islamabad, was postponed by the ITF to November 29-30 following a security review amid political tensions between the bitter neighbors.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had asked the ITF to shift the tie to a neutral venue.

“As per the Davis Cup Regulations, the Pakistan Tennis Federation now has the choice to nominate a neutral venue and has five working days to confirm their proposed venue,” the ITF said in a statement.

Pakistan expelled India’s ambassador and suspended bilateral trade and all public transport links with its neighbor in August after New Delhi removed “special status” from its portion of the contested region of occupied Kashmir.

The AITA had named a six-member squad in August for the tie against Pakistan but a couple of players and captain Mahesh Bhupathi had made themselves unavailable to travel to the neighboring country due to security concerns.

While the national governing body chose Rohit Rajpal in Bhupathi’s absence, they will soon name a new team for the tie with Bhupathi having made himself available again.

“We are very happy and welcome the ITF decision about the venue change,” AITA General Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee told Reuters by phone. “We will wait for the PTF to choose the venue and then name our team.”

Pakistan was forced to host Davis Cup ties at neutral venues for more than a decade as teams refused to travel to the country citing security concerns.