An Indian tennis team will travel to Pakistan for the first time in 55 years to compete in a Davis Cup tie, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.
The Indian team’s participation in the Asia/Oceania Group 1 away tie was confirmed by The All India Tennis Association (AITA). The event will be held on September 14-15 at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad.
“Yes, we will be going,” AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told The Indian Express. “It’s the World Cup of tennis and not a bilateral series, so there is no embargo on any front.”
For over a decade, most sporting events hosted by Pakistan were avoided by India — the last significant sporting event being the 2007 cricket tour to Pakistan, according to The Indian Express.
The draw for the Davis Cup was out in February, but following the Pulwama attack, the team’s chances of taking part appeared dismal. Last month, however, the Indian sports ministry “made it clear that the decision to compete in the tie remained solely with the AITA”, said the publication.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior official had put the onus on AITA. “Sports ministry does not interfere in team selections, participation of tournaments or visits to countries by sportspersons,” he had said.
Following an inspection of the event’s venue in Islamabad by the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF), the Indian tennis body announced its decision.
“The ITF had sent representatives to Islamabad on the 22nd of this month,” said Chatterjee. “Once they cleared it, we sent our details to the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) so that they could issue the invitation letter. That letter has come, so we have started the visa application process. It takes about four to five weeks to complete the visa process.”
When the two teams faced off each other last in 2006 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, India scored a 3-2 win to take the side’s head-to-head tally against Pakistan to 6-0.
The final squad for the competition is yet to be announced by the AITA for what will be the seventh meeting between the two neighbours.
“The team will officially be announced later, and it will be based on rankings,” said Chatterjee. “But we more or less know the team.”
The victor will earn a place in the World Group playoffs scheduled to take place next year.