Davis Cup: India captain weighs his options

September 12th, 2012 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup Chandigarh, Sep 12 (IANS) India in the last two decades invariably went into a Davis Cup tie taking for granted a victory in doubles with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi around. Now when they play New Zealand in their Asia-Oceania Zone play-off, starting here Friday, they are looking for the right combination.

There is no Leander, no Bhupathi, either Bopanna or Somdev Devvarman for varying reasons and non-playing captain Shiv Prakash Misra has worked out the strategy and chosen the men to execute it.

He is definite about playing Yuki Bhambri, the highest ranked player at 188, as his mainstay in the singles but he is not so sure of asking Vishnu Vardhan to play on all three days of the tie.

Misra is keeping the cards close to his chest, though it looks certain that Vishnu will play the doubles with his citymate from Hyderabad Saketh Myneni on their sheer strength of being good servers.

Misra would not spell out his options but he is happy that he has at least more options than one in the singles as well as in the doubles.

“The good thing about this young team is that I have a choice of playing either Vishnu or Sanam on the opening day and there are four players who can play good doubles,” Misra told IANS.

Misra might keep Vishnu to play the fifth rubber to use his experience if the tie is all square before the final singles.

Misra is confident of Yuki pulling off his singles as he is a highly talented player.

“Yuki has the best opportunity to show that he is ready to take up the responsibility of leading the charge. I expect him to win his opening day’s singles and that will keep India in good position,” Misra said.

If things pan out the way the Indian camp is thinking, then local lad Sanam Singh might play the opening day’s singles.

Thus, a brand new India team is going to take guard, though Yuki and Vishnu have been part of the Davis Cup squads and have the feel of playing.

Divij Sharan and Sri Ram Balaji are the two reserve players in the squad.

Expectations are high from Yuki, who will be playing the two singles while Vishnu, who paired with Paes in the doubles at the London Olympic Games, will be playing the doubles. Vishnu or Sanam may play the reverse singles.

Yuki said the Davis Cup provides an exciting opportunity to youngsters.

“The Davis Cup presents a good opportunity for the team. We will be playing in front of a home crowd and this will be a great advantage. We have the firepower and if we stay focused, we can win the tournament,” said Yuki.

Much will depend on Yuki if India have to win the Davis Cup tie. The 20-year-old remains unfazed in the face of challenge and said he was not under any pressure.

“The question is not what ranking you have but the test is in winning the tournament,” he said.

Yuki knows it is difficult to replace the seniors but the show has to go on.

“It is very difficult to replace the Leander-Bhupathi combination, but the future of Indian tennis looks bright as many young players are coming up,” he added.

Vardhan said his teammates had a good outing in Shanghai.

“I was playing in Shanghai for a week and other team members were also there. This was a good preparation for the Davis Cup tie. We also got to see the Kiwis playing and got a good hang of their game,” he said.

Hosts Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) too is looking forward to the Davis Cup tie. Chandigarh last hosted a Davis Cup tie here in 1993 when India lost to Australia.

“Davis Cup is coming back to Chandigarh after nearly 19 years. We are happy about it and looking forward to good matches. Some seats have been reserved for New Zealand fans also,” CLTA patron-in-chief and Davis Cup convenor Rajan Kashyap said.

The Kiwis’ squad comprising Jose (Rubin) Statham, Michael Venus, Artem Sitak and Daniel King Turner is led by non-playing captain Marcel Vos.

“Some experienced and good players are missing in the Indian squad and this will prove to be an advantage for us. All players in our team have had Davis Cup experience. We have been playing in Bangkok for two weeks and the best thing is that Indian weather conditions are similar,” he added.

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