The upcoming India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie, originally scheduled in Islamabad, will now be played in Nur-Sultan after the International Tennis Federation nominated the Kazakhstan capital to host the matches.
Following unrelenting pressure from the All India Tennis Association (AITA), the ITF had on November 4 announced its decision to shift the tie to a neutral venue and gave the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) five working days to propose an alternate venue outside the country.
"The ITF has asked us to begin visa procedures for Kazakhstan for our players and staff and also forwarded us a list of hotels," AITA secretary general Hiramnoy Chatterjee told ESPN. "So it looks quite certain now that, that's where the tie is going to be played. Pakistan didn't pick a venue though they had the choice, so the ITF did that job."
On November 14, AITA had picked an eight-member team to travel to a neutral venue for the tie and included both players who were willing to travel to Islamabad as well as those who had pulled out over strained relations and security concerns in the neighboring country.
However, Rohan Bopanna, who was to pair up with Leander Paes, expressed his unavailability for the tie on account of a shoulder injury. Reserve player Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan will now be brought in to partner Paes.
Furthermore, Pakistan's top doubles player Aisam ul Haq Qureshi refused to compete in the upcoming Davis Cup tie against India, protesting against ITF's decision to shift the tie from Islamabad to a neutral venue.
"The attitude towards Pakistan of both All Indian Tennis Association and ITF is highly deplorable, to say it the least. There is absolutely no threat foreseen for Indian tennis team in Pakistan," Qureshi wrote on Instagram. "However, if ITF does not correct their wrong decision then as a protest against this unjust, unfair and biased decision I want to raise my voice and hereby announce not to participate in this tie if it takes place outside Pakistan."
The safety of players, athletes and officials and the advice offered by independent security advisors, the ITF reasoned, had spurred the decision to move the tie out of Pakistan.
The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF), however, cried foul and had appealed to the ITF against it. An independent tribunal of the world body deliberated upon it before a final decision was arrived upon. To highlight its claim of normalcy in security conditions before the ITF, the PTF had cited the recent opening up of the historic Kartarpur corridor and the first batch of Indian Sikh pilgrims traveling to Pakistan over the weekend through the cross-border pathway. The world body, on its part, had sought AITA's views on the appeal to which the latter is understood to have stayed their ground in demanding a shift of venue.
In the changed scenario with PTF forfeiting its right to choose a venue of its choice and the ITF doing so instead, both countries will be treated as visitors.
The PTF was originally scheduled to host India on September 14 and 15 on the grass courts of the Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad where ties against Uzbekistan, Korea and Thailand have taken place in 2017 and 2018.