Sports & Games

Pakistan Hosts India for First Time in 60 Years for Davis Cup Tie

Pakistan is hosting India for a Davis Cup tie for the first time in 60 years, marking a historic moment in the tennis rivalry between the two nations.

The Davis Cup is the premier international team event in men’s tennis, run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and contested annually by teams from over 140 countries. The event started in 1900 as a challenge between USA and Great Britain, and has since grown to include many other nations. The most successful countries in the history of the Davis Cup are the United States, Australia, and Great Britain, but France, Sweden, Italy, and Czechoslovakia have also lifted the trophy. Pakistan and India have never won the Davis Cup, but they have a rich tradition of tennis in the region.

The tie between Pakistan and India is scheduled for February 3 and February 4 at the Islamabad Sports Complex, where a grass court has been prepared for the occasion. The Indian team, comprising five players and officials, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a special flight. They were received by a large crowd of fans, media, and security personnel, as well as the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) Secretary Col (retd) Gul Rehman and other federation officials.

The Pakistani team consists of Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Aqeel Khan, Muzammil Murtaza, Muhamad Shoaib, and Barkat Ullah, with the non-playing captain Muhammad Abid. The Indian team includes Ramkumar Ramanathan, Niki Poonacha, Sriram Balaji, Yuki Bhambri, and Saketh Myneni, along with coach Zeeshan Ali, manager Rohit Rajpal, and coordinator Anil Dhupar.

The tie, spread over two days, will feature four singles and a doubles match. India have a 7-0 lead in the head-to-head record against Pakistan, and only twice in 1973 and 2019 have they played at a neutral venue. The last time the Indian team played in Pakistan was in 1964, when the two countries were on friendly terms. The Indian team had won that tie 4-1, but the matches were close and competitive.

Since then, the two countries have been involved in several wars and conflicts, and their relations have deteriorated. The tie was initially scheduled for September 2019, but was postponed due to security concerns raised by the All India Tennis Association (AITA). The AITA had appealed to the ITF to shift the tie to a neutral venue, but their request was rejected by the Davis Cup Committee (DCC) and the Chair of the Independent Tribunal. The AITA had no choice but to send the team to Pakistan, or face a fine and possible relegation by the ITF.

This is the first time that Pakistan has defended its hosting rights against India’s opposition on an international platform for the second time in a matter of months. The PTF and the DCC have ensured that all the necessary arrangements and security measures are in place for the smooth conduct of the tie.

The tie is expected to draw a lot of attention and interest from both sides, as well as from the global tennis community. The tie is also seen as a rare opportunity for sports diplomacy and goodwill between the two neighbours, who have a long history of political and diplomatic tensions. The tie is a chance for both teams to showcase their talent and passion for the game, and to foster a spirit of friendship and respect.

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