Nur-Sultan: A formidable India is expected to demolish the challenge of a depleted Pakistan in a Davis Cup tie starting here on Friday, after the fixture was shifted to a neutral venue following a drama-filled build up.
The uncertainty over the venue remained till the last moment and it only added up the confusion regarding players selection in both the sides.
Eventually, the International Tennis Federation moved the tie to Nur-Sultan after its independent tribunal rejected Pakistan Tennis Federation's review appeal — which has certainly left former former Captain Mahesh Bhupathi, “hurt”, having excluded from the touring team.
The 45-year-old was removed from the captain's position for refusing to travel to Pakistan for a Davis Cup tie on security grounds.
"India-Pakistan is a unique scenario. Tension has been there since inception of Pakistan. No other sporting team has toured there for two decades and all of a sudden they are saying India tennis team should go, and everybody is criticising the boys for taking a stance, that was very unfair," Bhupathi said on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai.
"I am still in touch with the boys on a daily basis. I was disappointed with the way the Federation dealt with it. When they wanted me to become captain, they flew down to Hyderabad, had a meeting with me.
I don't mind if they think that it is time for me to step out, but a courtesy phone call saying 'listen we think it is time to put someone new in the system' and I would have respected that but I didn't even get that call.
"Honestly the way the federation has dealt with not only me but everyone in Indian tennis for the last 20 years, there is no surprise. But at some level it kind of hurts," he added.
Bhupathi said neither the federation nor the government supported the players when they expressed reservations about travelling to Islamabad, the original venue of the tie.
"It is unfair that the AITA did not back the team, unfair that the government didn't say anything...So everyone kind of put their hands up, that shows how important tennis is in higher scheme of things in our country," added Bhupathi.
"Bilateral, tri-lateral, single-lateral, if somebody from the government said it is not safe to go to Pakistan, game would have been done, but nobody was willing to say that. But nobody else is going to Pakistan.
"If the Indian cricket team was supposed to go to Pakistan, MLAs (MPs) would have stood in Parliament and said something about it. But for us, it did not matter and so be it," he said, fumed.
Bhupathi also said that he is in regular touch with current Davis Cup captain Rohit Rajpal despite the bitter end to his tenure.
India, with players of the caliber of Sumit Nagal, Ramkumar Ramanathan and veteran Leander Paes, is already expected to win easy but pulling out of Pakistan top players Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan has made it a no-contest.