ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s 2-0 lead over Thailand was cut down as the of duo Shahzad Khan and Muhammad Abid was beaten by twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana in the on-going Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group II Finals at the Pakistan Sports Complex grass courts here on Saturday.
The four-set game was a comfortable one for the Ratiwatana brothers as it took them only two hours and 15 minutes to down the home pair 6-4,4-6,1-6,1-6.
Pakistan, however, are expected to come back stronger on the final day of the event on Sunday, which will feature two reverse singles.
The home-side will be hoping Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan will repeat their first day’s performance in which they defeated Kittipong Wachiramanowong and Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul in their respective singles.
The Pakistan management dropped both the veterans for the doubles and fielded Abid and Shahzad who had a tough time against the highly-rated Ratiwatana brothers despite starting impressively.
The Thai twins, known for their specialty in doubles and ranked 92 and 96 in the world, were surprised in first set by Shahzad’s powerful serve. It was four games all, when the home pair held service and got a crucial point before breaking the serve of the opponents, finishing the first set 6-4.
Shahzad and Abid’s momemtum continued to the start of the second set as they led by two points to one before the Thai twins broke the serve in the fifth game and ended it with a 3-2 lead.
The visitors broke serves again in the sixth and seventh games and rose to a 4-3 lead before holding their serve in the eight game. In ninth game, Shahzad managed to hold serve, but it was short lived as the twins, who were well settled down by that time easily got the required points, finishing the second set 6-4.
In the next two sets Pakistani player looked exhausted and their fitness was exposed which eventually made them lose more points and end up on the unsuccessful side.
“I am very much happy over today’s victory,” Thailand’s non playing captain Vittaya Samrej told Dawn.
Pakistan coach Mushaf Zia defended the team management’s decision to rest Aisam and Aqeel, saying it was necessary to keep the veteran pair fresh for the final day’s singles.
“The main strength of the Thailand team is are the twins, who are specialist in doubles. They had full potential to beat Aisam and Aqeel, so we decided not to take risk,” said Zia.
“If they defeated our stars in long-contested doubles, then it would be highly difficult for us to win the singles on the final day.”
“Let me say, I am hopeful, in tomorrow’s (Sunday) first match Aisam will defeat his opponent…rest assured,” he added.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2017