PUNE: India have been awarded a tricky away tie to Pakistan in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1, to be played in September later this year. The draw was announced at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) headquarters in London on Wednesday.
India will go into the tie as strong favourites and a win will see them return to the World Group Qualifiers in 2020. But only if they go.
The Indian government has not allowed any major sporting tour, especially involving bilateral matches, to the neighbouring nation for more than a decade.
But, while that has prevailed in cricket and hockey where India is a major commercial stakeholder, it may not be a good enough reason in the tennis arena.
As per the ITF rules, a noshow by a team for whatever reasons will result in that team defaulting the tie.
India should only know too well. In May 2009, the year after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the Australian team refused to play India in a zonal tie in Chennai. The Indians got a walkover.
A more relevant situation would be the more painful loss in 1974 when India forfeited the World Group Final that was to be played in South Africa since the government at that time had severed all relations with that country due to the latter’s apartheid regime.
“Until a few years ago, because of what happened with the Sri Lankan cricket team, the ITF didn’t allow Pakistan to host any international ties and the matches were played at neutral venues. It was a decision of the ITF due to security reasons,” a reliable source told TOI.
“But in 2017, Iran visited Pakistan and the tie was held under the strict supervision of the ITF amid tight security.
Since Pakistan has been back to hosting ties at home, it will be difficult for a team to refuse to go there.