New Delhi: Veteran Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi on Wednesday refused to admit that he has been replaced as captain of India for the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan saying he is available and believes he is "still captain".
The All India Tennis Association on Monday named Rohit Rajpal, a former India player and chairman of the national tennis federation's selection panel, as the non-playing captain after Bhupathi also refused to travel to Pakistan citing security concerns for the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie.
"To everyone so concerned for my thoughts and comments. All I know is from a phone call with Mr. Chaterjee (AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee) 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)," Bhupathi tweeted.
"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 in am still captain unless I hear otherwise! Glad to "comment" when I know what I know," he added. Veteran Rohan Bopanna, one of the players who refused to go to Islamabad because of security issues, tweeted on Tuesday expressing his surprise over AITA changing the captain before International Tennis Federation (ITF) shifted the Asia/Oceania Group I tie from Islamabad to a neutral venue.
Meanwhile, AITA has slammed the players criticising them for appointing a non-playing captain, saying it is not their decision to make. "It is not the players' prerogative to comment on administrative matters," Chatterjee told IANS. Bopanna said he was shocked that none of the players were "asked or even informed" that the captain was going to be changed.
"They were not supposed to be informed. It is the committee's decision at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). I spoke to him and I feel he is overstepping," said Chatterjee. Asked if he had a word with Bhupathi, Chatterjee said: "I had a word with Mahesh. Our job is to inform them about our decisions and that's what I did."
The tie will be held on November 29 and 30. The tie was earlier scheduled to be held on September 14-15 but was postponed to November after a security review by the ITF in August. The postponement had come in the wake of pleas from India to shift the tie to a neutral venue or postpone it given the heightened tensions between the two countries.