AITA Saying That I Refused National Duty is Unacceptable: Bhupathi
Mahesh Bhupathi says he does not mind being fired as the Indian Davis Cup team's captain but what is unacceptable to him is the tennis federation's allegation that he refused national duty.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) chose former Davis Cupper Rohit Rajpal as Bhupathi's successor.
"I don't mind being fired. They can say it's time for a new captain. But nobody can say that I refused national duty. I genuinely thought it's unsafe to travel to Pakistan which the ITF has validated. So, they are going to penalise me and players for this, it's not going to work," he added.
Bhupathi, whose tenure as captain began in Bengaluru in April 2017 with a tie against Uzbekistan, said AITA did not have the courtesy to inform him that he won't continue as captain.
“I need some form of communication from AITA that I am not the captain anymore. I have not heard anything from them except that since Rohit is fine to travel to Islamabad and I am not, they will take him for this tie. And this was hours before the neutral venue was announced.”Mahesh Bhupati to PTI
However, when contacted, AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee said he did call Bhupathi to inform him about the change in captaincy.
Bhupathi insisted that the communication to him was that Rajpal was being appointed just for the tie in Islamabad as he was unavailable and it was never conveyed that he was being removed for good.
"I have personally been involved with the sport at a macro level in India. Be it the Mittal Champions Trust or JSW's IIS. I have raised money for Karman Kaur (Thandi), Sumit (Nagal),” he said.
Arguing his case further, Bhupathi said it defies logic that AITA first announced him as captain for the tie against Pakistan, involved him in selection discussions followed by deliberations with the ITF before suddenly announcing his sacking.
"The easiest way to fire me was when we lost to Italy (in February this year). They could have said I did not take the team to World Group so they are firing me. Why have they fired me just before the ITF meeting? There is no logic," he said.
When pointed out that his term got over in December 2018 and he was given an extension for the Italy tie, Bhupathi asked why AITA kept him involved in team matters even after that.
"If my term was over after Italy tie, why they called me for meetings and announced me as captain for the Pakistan tie. I was the one who convinced AITA to arrange a jet to fly to Pakistan instead of taking a flight. Today it is convenient for them to tell you that my term is over,” Bhupathi said.
When Bhupathi's point was put across to AITA, Chatterjee said, "We have to continue with the old setup until the new captain is in place. We have now chosen the new captain."
Bhupathi feels that AITA sacked him because the body thought he was instigating the players to not to travel Pakistan.
In five ties under Bhupathi, India won against Uzbekistan (April 2017) and China (April 2018).
During his tenure, India twice reached the World Group Play-offs but lost to Canada (September 2017) and Serbia (September 2018) in tough away ties.
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