AITA keeps door open for Mahesh Bhupathi, but after Pakistan tie

Mahesh Bhupathi had expressed concerns about travelling to Pakistan.

A day after Mahesh Bhupathi hit out at the All India Tennis Association for sacking him as non-playing captain for the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan, the federation said it hadn’t shut the door on the former doubles specialist completely.

But AITA was standing firm in the decision to not take Bhupathi onboard for this tie. He could be considered for future national duties, AITA CEO Akhuri Bishwadep said at a press conference in the Capital on Thursday.

“Mahesh is welcome for national duty. Whatever duty AITA requires from Mahesh, then he will be approached,” said Bishwadep.

There was no headway in terms of team selection for the tie, with Pakistan appealing against the International Tennis Federation’s decision to move the tie to a neutral venue. Newly-appointed captain Rohit Rajpal said the selection committee will meet soon and would “keep in mind” the fact that certain players had put their hand up even when the contest was scheduled to be held in Islamabad.

“When the tie was supposed to be played in Pakistan, a lot of players backed out. But the moment it was learnt that it might happen in a neutral venue, everyone is back. But there were those who put their hand up when the chips were down, we will consider this fact. At the same time, we need to find the best team. National interest comes first and we cannot please everybody all the time,” said Rajpal.

Rajpal, who is also the chairman AITA's selection committee, said he sees no reason why Bhupathi can't return to the scene again. “Never say never. It's the executive committee's decision on the captain but if Mahesh is required in future, why not have him and also he can make more contribution in other capacities being a legend of the game. Everything is open," he said.

Earlier, Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and a few others had made themselves unavailable for the tie originally scheduled in Pakistan. AITA decided to appoint Rajpal in place of Bhupathi on Monday just hours before ITF announced its decision to move the tie to a neutral venue due to security concerns. Bhupathi vented his ire on Twitter saying players were not consulted before taking a call.

“To everyone so concerned for my thoughts and comments. All I know is from a phone call with Mr Chaterjee on Monday where I was told that Rohit is replacing me as Captain because I wasn't comfortable going to Pakistan (love the country been there before - not this time). I have not heard from the AITA since Monday or after the ITF addressed the players concerns on venue and approved a neutral location - so I am available and believe I am still Captain unless I hear otherwise! Glad to 'comment' when I know what I know,” Bhupathi had posted.