Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], Apr. 6 (ANI): Defending his decision to drop Leander Paes in India's final four-man team for Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I tie against Uzbekistan, non-playing skipper Mahesh Bhupathi on Thursday insisted that he wasn't willing to take the risk of playing Paes and N. Sriram Balaji together in such a high pressure game.
Earlier in the day, Bhupathi dropped Paes and picked Rohan Bopanna in his team for India's tie against Uzbekistan, scheduled from April 7 to April 9 in Bengaluru.
"These boys have been here since Sunday and we were able to play a lot of sets with Rohan and Bala. Since Sunday, they literally played sets every day. Leander unfortunately only came yesterday and he played only three games and it started raining," Bhupathi told the media.
"In such a high pressure situation such as Davis Cup, throwing on Leander and Bala would have been another roll on a dice for me, which considering I have two debutants, I wasn't willing to take that much risk," he added
Bhupathi had previously selected Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and N. Sriram Balaji for the tie, and had kept both Paes and Bopanna as reserves in the squad.
However, following Bhambri's withdrawal due to his knee injury, it was speculated that either of Paes and Bopanna would be included in the team as the fourth member.
Bopanna and Balaji will feature in the doubles match against Farrukh Dustov and Sanjar Fayziev to be played on April 8 whereas Gunneswaran and Balaji will be making their debut in the team-based event.
When asked whether Leander would have been included in the team had he arrived earlier, Bhupathi said, "Well, if I had the full team on Sunday or Monday, I would have had more time to make a proper, educated decision which I did."
The 42-year-old also insisted that every captain has a different style and he thought I made his still pretty clear to the entire squad two months ago.
"I am going to run the team the way I think it should be run and 20-25 years of experience should give me that ability to do so and I am not saying it's a right way but the fact is that I am dealing with two new kids, injuries, boys who have never played four sets, forget about five sets, I have to find every possible way to win those three points and I think this is the best chance," he said.
Bhupathi, however, insisted that Paes' exclusion from the Davis Cup tie doesn't mean that it is the end of the road for him.
"I have made it clear to everyone including Leander that this is by no means the end of the road, his being on the team is invaluable. The experience and the energy he brings to the Davis Cup is un-matchable," he insisted.
It is for the first time in 27 years that Paes, who made his Davis Cup debut against Japan in 1990, has been dropped from the Davis Cup team on form. (ANI)