Injured Paes named non playng captain

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New Delhi, Jan 22: India's mainstay in the recent Davis Cup matches, Leander Paes was today named non playing captain of the four-member team for the Asia/Oceania Zone Group-1 tie against Uzbekistan to be played here from February 8 to 10.

Chairman of selection committee of the AITA Anil Dhupar told mediapersons here this afternoon that other members of the team are Mahesh Bhupathi, Prakash Amritraj, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Varman. He said National Hard court winner Ashutosh Singh and National Grass Court champion Vishnu Vardhan will also join the team. Nandan Bal will be the coach while the team doctor continues to be Vace Paes and Sanjay Singh is the Physiotherapist.

Dhupar also announced that Sania Mirza will spearhead the four-member Indian challange in the Fed Cup to be held in Bangkok from January 28.

Enrico Piperno will be the non-playing captain of the Fed Cup team which besides Sania includes Shikha Uberoi, Sunitha Rao and Isha Lakhani.

Dhupar said that Shikha Uberoi has been included in place of injured Tara Iyer.

All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary Anil Khanna who also addressed the media said that he was still hopeful that Leander Paes will be fit for the tie.

According to him the new rules of the Davis Cup stipulates that captain has the right to change two players one hour before the draw. ''So, if Paes is fit by then, he can play.'' Khanna also said under the Davis Cup rules in the reverse singles, the captain can substitute two players-who played in the first two singles- by two other players who are part of the team.

He said India has played Uzbekistan twice. ''Once we beat them 5-0 in Jaipur and second time we lost to them 1-4 in the away tie.'' ''The Uzbek team is very tough, they have two very strong players- Istomin and Farrukh Dustov, but this time we hope to do well,'' he said and added that winner of this tie will take on winner of the Japan/Philippines match.

About Paes's injury, Khanna said the Indian ace has suffered an injury with torn ligament ''but he is trying his best to get fit for the tie.'' Khanna said Delhi has been a happy hunting ground for India Davis Cup team and ''we hope this time also it will prove lucky for us.'' He said the NSCI at Mathura Road will be the venue for practice by the teams and added that Uzbekistan team is likely to arrive here on January 29.

Khanna said the AITA knows that ''Grass court is very strong point for us and that is why we are planning to have another grass court venue in Delhi for future Davis Cup matches.'' The present R K Khanna Stadium will not be available after this Davis Cup tie because it is being reconstructed for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Spain's Gabriel Mato is the referee for this tie while England's Ted Watts will be one of the two umpires. The second umpire will be from India.

UNI

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