In an unprecedented move, the All India Tennis Association was forced to pick a second string team for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea, after snubbing the eight players who refused to make themselves available. Apart from Leander Paes, it will be the likes of VM Ranjit (ranked 517), Vijayant Malik (542) and Purav Raja (155 in doubles) who will be spearheading the country in the home tie against Korea which will be held on February 1. SP Misra is the non-playing captain while Zeeshan Ali is the coach.
The AITA was forced to name the second string after the revolting players refused to confirm their availability till Friday afternoon.
Earlier, the revolting players led by Somdev Devvarman wanted Misra to be replaced as the non-playing captain and also wanted a new coach apart from other demands such as a larger share in the prize money and air travel upgradation.
Selection Committee Chairman Anil Dhupar announced the team in a packed press conference where senior AITA officials explained the Association's stand and described the players' boycott as "unfair and unjustified".
The AITA officials claimed that the Indian players were offered the best remuneration in the entire Asian region and gave the break-ups of some of the senior players' financial packages to back their claim.
Meanwhile, the rebels said they will continue to remain unavailable for Davis Cup selection until the tennis federation engages with them in "good faith". The group has also got bigger as Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, N Sriram Balaji and Vijay Sunder Prashanth have also joined, taking the number of revolting players to 11.
"We are disappointed to note that instead of engaging in discussion with us, the AITA has selected an inexperienced team to represent the country in this crucial Davis Cup fixture," the joint statement read.
"In making each of our suggestions to the AITA, we were guided by our strong convictions regarding what we believed was fair and beneficial to the future of the sport in the country and are dismayed to hear that the AITA has labelled our suggestions unfair and unjustified.
"The AITA's position reiterates and reaffirms our stand, and we are constrained to state that, unfortunately, we will be unavailable to represent the country until such time that the AITA engages with us in good faith. "We wish the Indian Davis Cup team that has been selected for the fixture all the very best," the statement added.
Hurt Zeeshan promises his best
A "hurt" Zeeshan Ali said that his credentials as coach were never in doubt and promised to give his best in the upcoming Davis Cup tie against South Korea despite having an inexperienced side at his disposal.
The revolting group in Indian tennis wanted Aditya Sachdeva as the Davis Cup coach but AITA went with Zeeshan, son of ex-Davis Cup captain and coach Akhtar Ali.
"I don't think that my credentials was an issue.