The Indian team spearheaded by Ramkumar Ramanathan exuded confidence on the eve of its departure for the Davis Cup World Group-1 play-off tie to be staged on the grass courts of Islamabad on February 3 and 4.
On the nicely groomed grass courts of the Delhi Gymkhana Club, the entire Indian team had a week-long training stint, supervised by coach Zeeshan Ali.
The president of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Anil Jain, visited the training session on Saturday and wished the team a memorable tie.
India may be missing its leading players Sumit Nagal and Mukund Sasikumar, but should be well equipped, especially on grass, to meet any challenge posed by Pakistan.
There was visa concern for one member of the team, SD Prajwal Dev, and efforts were on to get him the clearance. Niki Poonacha, Sriram Balaji, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni, apart from Prajwal Dev and Ramkumar, had a fruitful time, sharpening their game on grass.
Former national champion and coach Ashutosh Singh was also brought for the training sessions to tune the team in the best possible way. The Dunlop Fort balls that would be used for the tie were procured to help the players get into their rhythm.
Pakistan may rely on the seasoned Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan. The 43-year-old Qureshi is ranked 127 in doubles. The 43-year-old Aqeel does not have a rank in singles or doubles. Both have formidable record, especially in Davis Cup.
Pakistan’s main singles player is expected to be the 23-year-old Muzammil Murtaza, ranked 1679. Muhamad Shoaib and Barkat Ullah are the other members of the Pakistan team and both do not have any international rank. The team will have Muhammad Abid as the captain.
The Indian captain Rohit Rajpal will have many options for both singles and doubles, even though the team may look to be made of doubles specialists as they all compete at the highest level in Grand Slams and ATP Tour events.
The tie, spread over two days, will feature four singles and a doubles. India will be competing in Davis Cup without the current world No.1 doubles star Rohan Bopanna, who retired from Davis Cup duty in the last tie against Morocco in Lucknow.