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Uncapped players in Indian Davis Cup squad

January 30, 2007 18:35 IST

Uncapped Vivek Shokeen and Somdev Dev Varman were on Tuesday included in the Indian Davis Cup team for the Asia-Oceania Group 1 first round away tie against Uzbekistan, in Namangan, from February 9 to 11.

Leander Paes was named playing captain and will lead a young bunch that also includes Karan Rastogi and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya as the fifth player.

The inclusion of Shokeen and Somdev comes in the wake of Rohan Bopanna's withdrawal and injury to Prakash Amritraj.

"Bopanna spoke to me and expressed his wish to attempt to qualify for the Grand Slams in doubles this year. He has also got a doubles wild card for an event in Delray Beach (in Miami, USA) this week," Anil Khanna, secretary-general of the All India Tennis Association said, following the announcement of the squad in Delhi on Tuesday.

With the team already missing the services of Mahesh Bhupathi, the withdrawal of Bopanna, very much an in-form player, is bound to leave a gaping hole, since he also would have filled in as doubles partner for Paes.

Paes was pragmatic about the turn of events.

"Even with Rohan in the team, playing Uzbekistan in Uzbekistan is a tough proposition," he said over phone.

"We have a fresh crop of players and my job is to motivate them and give them the best opportunity," he added.

"For me it is not so much about this result as about trying to set up a team that can make it to the World Group in the future.

"Being near-sighted is not the way to go about it. We have to prepare these players overtime."

Paes said he will decide on who will play the singles and who will be his partner after reaching the venue and the final round of practice sessions.

"It is going to be interesting. Whomever I will be playing with, it will be the first time I will be partnering him," he said.

The lead-up to the tie was marred by the spat between Paes and Bhupathi.

Bhupathi declared during the Asian Games that he would never player for India as long as the team comprised Paes as captain and Nandan Bal the coach.

Bal has been retained for the Uzbek tie and will have Sandeep Kirtane to assist him.

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