Davis Cup team, sans all the proven stars, battles it out against New Zealand to stay in the Asia Oceania Group I here from tomorrow.
A 20-year-old Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan, who impressed at the London Olympics, will lead the Indian challenge in the absence of the big names who damaged their reputations with public spats not so long ago. Every country faces transition when the seniors pass on the baton to the youngsters but the way it has begun in Indian tennis is not something to cheer about.
The foursome of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman are missing in the line-up and it will be a big test of nerves and skills for the youngsters. Both Paes and Somdev Devvarman, who is out due to a shoulder problem, are expected to make a comeback when the next Davis Cup assignment comes. However, there is uncertainty if Bhupathi and Bopanna will come back to represent the nation in the Davis Cup as they have been axed from the side due to the bitter selection row ahead of the Olympics which started with both of them refusing to partner Paes.
The national federation, AITA, could afford to kick them out and experiment with the youngsters since they are capable of taking the fight with not-so-strong rival in New Zealand in this tie. The rankings and the recent performances point towards superiority of young Indian players and the hot weather conditions would also suit them but it will be a mistake to take the Kiwis lightly in the first round of the play-off tie.