NEW DELHI, March 11: Sending out a strong message that it won�t allow players to interfere in selection matters, the AITA today brought back old warhorse Leander Paes in the Davis Cup team despite �reservations� from seasoned campaigner Rohan Bopanna.
The five-member selection committee named Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Sumit Nagal, Bopanna and Paes apart from including left-handed Divij Sharan as a reserve member in the side. Purav Raja, who performed below-par against Canada in the World Group Play-Off tie, was predictably dropped from the squad.
According to sources in the AITA, non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi had written to the chairman of the selection committee that senior pro Bopanna had expressed wish to �sit out� of the China tie, to allow Paes get his Davis Cup world record, effectively conveying that he was not willing to pair up with the legend for this tie.
The selectors though have included both Bopanna and Paes in the team, leaving the ball in Bopanna�s court to decide whether he wants to play or opt out of the April 6-7 tie, to be held in Tainjin.
�This matter was discussed in the EC yesterday and according to the captain, Rohan is still carrying a baggage and there is no on-court chemistry between them (Bopanna and Paes). The captain also felt that it was only Leander, who can convince Bopanna to play with him and that he must communicate with Bopanna,� an AITA official told PTI.
The AITA official said that it will be a very critical decision that Bopanna has to make. The official did not forget to mention that Bopanna still gets government grant and should be aware of what he is getting into.
�Look, he (Bopanna) gets grants from the government. If he refuses to play for the country, leaving behind personal differences, AITA won�t support such players. They have to play only twice or thrice a year for India. Can�t they play without an agenda for two weeks,� the irked AITA official remarked.
The differences between Bopanna and Paes go back a long way. In 2012, both of them were expected to play together on the ATP Tour to prepare for the London Olympics but later Bopanna had refused to pair up with Paes and forced AITA to team him up with Bhupathi.
Paes had to play the men�s doubles event with unheralded Vishnu Vardhan. For the mixed doubles, he was paired with Sania Mirza, who didn�t hide his disappointment at being used as a �bait� by AITA to pacify Paes. � PTI