Veteran Leander Paes is in contention to make a comeback to the Indian Davis Cup squad for next month’s tie against China as the selectors get ready to announce the team on Sunday. Paes was dropped from the tie against Uzbekistan last April. He has been out of favour since the Bengaluru fiasco when he was not included in the starting line-up by captain Mahesh Bhupathi. However, there is a strong feeling among AITA officials that having Paes in the squad will be an advantage for India in the away Asia/Oceania Group I tie.
“We have no business losing the doubles tie against Canada. If we had won that we would have been in World Group. Paes brings a lot on table in terms of experience,” said an AITA source. When pointed out that captain Bhupathi and doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna do not share a good chemistry with Paes, the official said, “the players have to put nation ahead.”
“It’s not about individuals it’s about the team and country. Paes will definitely be considered when the selection committee sit tomorrow,” the official said. “Also, he is just one win away from that Davis Cup world record. He has done so much playing for nation, so he should not be overlooked. The captain will be given best options, then it’s his choice,” the official added.
If Paes is chosen then Purav Raja will be dropped. And if he manages to post a win, it will be a world record 43rd Davis Cup doubles victory, surpassing Nicola Pietrangeli of Italy. Paes has returned to Top-50 and is placed 46 in the rankings after his stupendous show at the ATP 500 event in Dubai where he ended runners-up. Since Divij Sharan, now ranked 44, is the country’s second highest ranked player after Bopanna (20), the left-hander is likely to make a comeback to the team.
Sharan had played the Davis Cup tie against New Zealand in 2012 in Chandigarh. In singles, Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal select themselves being the top-ranked players.