Ever since the draw was made in February for India and Pakistan to play each other in a zonal Davis Cup tie, the match-up has been riddled with hurdles. Now, with six weeks left for the November 29-30 tie in Islamabad, the fixture has run into another roadblock.
India's stand on Davis Cup tie
The All India Tennis Association (AITA), at the behest of the players, has again written to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) asking for the tie to be shifted to a neutral venue. Since political relations between the two countries haven’t improved after the Kashmir issue arose in August, the AITA has cited security concerns. In August, the AITA had written to the world body asking for either a change in venue or for the then-September tie to be delayed by two months. The ITF subsequently agreed and moved the tie to November.
At the same time, the AITA has begun the visa process for its players. Additionally, two of the five players in the original squad, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Divij Sharan, are unavailable for the tie due to personal commitments.
Pakistan's stand on Davis Cup tie
The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) too has written to the ITF this week, asserting the Indians had ‘no intention’ of travelling across the border for the two-day tie. The PTF President has made it clear that the Pakistan government has ‘guaranteed’ the security of the Indian contingent, and continues to urge their opponents to make the trip to Islamabad for the tie.
The world body is scheduled to make a check of the security measures in the host city on November 4. The ITF had also cleared the arrangements earlier when the tie was still scheduled for the September dates. The ITF’s stand, meanwhile, remains the same: “The ITF will continue to monitor the security situation in Pakistan with the host nation and our independent security advisors”.
Possible consequences of forfeiture
In 2017, Hong Kong refused to travel to Islamabad for a Group 2 match. Subsequently, the ITF Internal Adjudication Panel imposed three sanctions on the visiting team. Hong Kong was immediately relegated to a lower division (Group 2 to 3), with a $5,000 fine to be paid to the ITF and $10,971 to the paid to the PTF and ITF for expenses incurred.