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Updated January 26th, 2024 at 19:49 IST

Davis Cup: Indian team frets over visa denial to reserve player Prajwal Dev

Most likely it will be Balaji who will do the singles duty along with Ramkumar and the team is working hard to prepare him for the challenge.

Sumit Nagal
Sumit Nagal | Image:PTI
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Captain Rohit Rajpal worked on Saketh Myneni's volleys while N Sriram Balaji was getting used to not hitting in the alleys as the Indian Davis Cup team continued its preparations for the upcoming tie against Pakistan here Friday.

Coach Zeeshan Ali threw more balls on Myneni's body and Rajpal advised him to keep his head a bit down and still.

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"Do not go up on your toes, keep your feet grounded when you make contact," said Rajpal. Myneni applied and immediately felt the difference.

This was because it is a bit difficult for taller players to move sideways, and rivals feed a lot of ball on the body. Myneni has been peppered with such balls on the Tour and Rajpal wanted his player to be ready for the challenge.

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Ramkumar Ramanathan's grunts echoed around Delhi Gymkhana. He first played sets with Balaji and then also practiced with Niki Poonacha, who is also being prepared for the singles matches.

BALAJI TO PLAY SINGLES

Most likely it will be Balaji who will do the singles duty along with Ramkumar and the team is working hard to prepare him for the challenge.

Balaji is being forced to play singles since the country's top two singles players, Sumit Nagal and Sasikumar Mukund, opted out of the February 3-4 tie.

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"While switching from doubles to singles, the challenge is to avoid that backhand cross-court, targetting the alleys. You also have to curb your instinct of going for the lines. But grass suits me. When I used to play singles, I was a serve and volley player," said Balaji.

Ashutosh Singh, assistant coach at the camp, said getting the rhythm of a singles player is key for Balaji, who is a doubles specialist.

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"In doubles, the ball does not come to you all the time. So, getting that rhythm of the singles player is significant," said Ashutosh, who himself was one of the better Indian serve and volley players in his playing days.

Since the courts are expected to be fast in Islamabad, Rajpal and Zeeshan had asked the groundsmen not to leave any water on the courts and also advised against rolling the surface.

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That way the ball stays low, and that is exactly what the Indian team is going to contend with in Islamabad.

While on-court preparations are in full swing, the denial of a visa to Dev is keeping the team management worried. All the Indian players, except Dev, received their visas on Thursday.

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"If an injury happens to any player, we will be one-man short. We need Prajwal in the team. We are sending his papers again to the High Commission. We are waiting and watching. They have rejected his visa without any reason; this is really disappointing," Rajpal told PTI.

Dev is surprised that he has been denied a visa.

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"It really came as a surprise. I have travelled to so many countries, and I have never been denied a visa. Even I have a valid US visa. This is really disappointing. It is not in my hands. I am just hopeful that they reconsider the decision and issue me a visa." 

CAPTAIN DELAYS DEPARTURE

The Indian team will leave for Islamabad on Sunday but captain Rajpal will join the side a few days later due to a medical emergency in his family. His mother has been hospitalised.

"It's my mother who gave me the first lesson of patriotism. Even today she told me that I should go with the team but I have to make sure that she is okay before I finally take the flight for Islamabad," said Rajpal.

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The captain also thanked his players for agreeing for a long preparatory camp ahead of the tie.

"Playing on grass is completely different. It's better to prepare in best possible manner. I am glad the players skipped playing days on Tour and came here," he said. 

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Published January 26th, 2024 at 19:49 IST

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