NUR SULTAN (Kazakhstan): Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal easily won their opening singles battles on Friday to give India a 2-0 lead over Pakistan in their Davis Cup clash which has been moved to neutral territory because of the arch-rivalry between the neighbours.
Ramanathan dispatched Mohammad Shoaib 6-0, 6-0 in 42 minutes in the first match in the Kazakhstan capital of Nur-Sultan.
Nagal then outplayed Huzaifa Abdul Rehman 6-0, 6-2 in one hour and four minutes.
India will travel to Croatia in March 2020 for the world group qualifiers if they win the best-of-five rubber.
The International Tennis Federation moved the Asia/Oceania Group 1 away from Islamabad because of India’s security fears even though Pakistan opposed the decision.
Pakistan’s top players Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan pulled out of the tie in protest, giving teenagers Shoaib and Huzaifa their chance alongside Yousaf Khalil.
The match was also pushed back from September because of the security fears, as the two countries were wrangling over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
The nuclear-armed neighbours split angrily in 1947 after independence from Britain and have fought three wars since. Sport has also suffered badly.
India cut bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that authorities blamed on Pakistani militants.
India last played a Davis Cup tie in Pakistan in 1964, when they beat the hosts 4-0. Pakistan lost 3-2 when they played in Mumbai in 2006.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2019