The All India Tennis Association (AITA) CEO Akhouri Bishwadeep addressed the queries on why tennis ace Leander Paes was not made the captain for India's team for its Davis Cup tie with Pakistan. Days after Rohit Rajpal replaced Mahesh Bhupathi as the non-playing captain for India, Hironmoy Chatterjee addressed a press conference and provided details as to how Rohit Rajpal was chosen as the non-playing captain of the side. Mahesh Bhupathi had been replaced as captain by the AITA after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) had decided to shift the venue of the tie to a neutral location on Monday.
AITA CEO Akhouri Bishwadeep said that Mahesh Bhupathi had been replaced as the captain as both the latter's family and himself was not comfortable traveling to Pakistan. AITA revealed that it had approached Leander Paes after it convened an emergency meeting on 15 October and had decided to approach the most decorated and senior tennis player in the country. Akhouri Bishwadeep further said that while Leander Paes had agreed immediately to be a part of the team for India's Davis Cup tie against Pakistan in the line of national duty, he could not be named the captain as a non-playing member was traditionally named as the captain of the side so that there is no burden on the playing members of the team.
"In the meantime, our captain gave a list of those top Indian players who had given their acceptance to travel to Pakistan - Saketh Myneni, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Arjun Kadhe, Vijay Sundar Prashanth, Manish Sureshkumar, and Siddarth Vishwakarma. On the basis of the meeting on 15 October, AITA approached the most decorated and senior player Leander Paes to ask if he would be available to be a part of the team as others had expressed concerns about traveling to Pakistan. Leander Paes immediately said that he was available in the line of national duty. Mahesh Bhupathi had already informed that he couldn't travel to Pakistan as his family was not comfortable with it. Considering the strong likelihood of the tie being held in Islamabad, it was, therefore, important to decide on a captain who had the experience, maturity, and calmness to deal with this sensitive tour and someone whose family did not have a problem with the travel. Further, we did not want to burden him as he was a playing member. Traditionally a non-playing captain is appointed. Under these circumstances, Rohit Rajpal was selected as the captain of the team", said Akhouri Bishwadeep during the press conference.
"We would not like to go into detail of correspondence with players. However some facts are important and need to be mentioned. As of 28 sept 2019, it had been communicated by erstwhile captain Mahesh Bhupathi that he had spoken to all the players personally and that no one was comfortable going to Pakistan. His recommendation was that he wanted the AITA to fight for change in venue, which it already was. If they do not get it, he wanted them to keep fighting to take the loser's spot. He wanted the AITA to speak personally to the players. An emergency meeting was called on 15 October and the AITA met to take a decision where it was decided that even if the tie was not shifted out of Islamabad, India would not forefeit the tie nor would it accept to take the loser's spot because it was far too prestigious. We were putting pressure on both Pakistan and ITF to ensure security arrangements", said Akhouri Bishwadeep in the press briefing.