ISLAMABAD - Pakistan tennis team is all set to take on Philippines in the Asia-Oceania Group-II tie starting from April 4 to 6.
It is quite unfortunate that this tie was supposed to be held here, as it was Pakistan's home tie, but International Tennis Federation (ITF) sighting so-called security reasons declined to allow the tie to be held in the country. Though Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) had the option of hosting tie at neutral venue but keeping in mind financial constrains, the PTF was left with no other option but to play the home tie at opponent’s venue, which is by all means a grave injustice to Pakistan and its players.
The situation in Philippines is not easy for the green shirts. Pakistan's sole international player Aisam had not represented the country against Philippines since long and situation this time is almost similar, as it is highly unlikely the PTF had the services of Aisam whose absence is more than a body blow for the country’s chances of winning the tie.
It will very tough for Pakistan's longest serving No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan to guide the country home single-handedly as other available members of the team are not even close to Aqeel and Aisam. Both Yasir Khan and M Abid are inconsistent performers. They both lost matches against ordinary players in local events and that too in the first round or quarterfinal levels for the past two ranking events in running. The situation is worst when it comes to fourth member of the squad under current circumstances. Usman Ejaz finished fifth in the previous trial matches and went to Vietnam as fourth player. Aisam first declined to play the tie due to his other international commitments but reached Vietnam at the eleventh hour to represent the country and helped in winning tie against Vietnam. Now Usman is almost certain to be the part of the team which will prove disaster for Pakistan tennis.
Usman is not even capable of beating U-14 level player and also lost his pre-quarterfinal match against 48-year old Israr Gul. Instead of taking a liability like Usman, PTF president Dr Syed Kaleem Imam must conduct fresh trial matches involving talented players like Heera Ashiq and Ahmed Chaudhry and others. Ashiq was leading against all the players in the Davis Cup trial matches but unfortunately got injured, which allowed Usman to grab the fifth position. The country should be put above personal egos. It is moral and national duty of PTF chief Kaleem Imam to order fresh trial matches in case Aisam does not turn up for the tie. Samir Iftikhar and Abid Ali are also good options. Only the best must be given right to represent the country in the most prestigious team event otherwise it will be a lost cause and no one else but the PTF president will be responsible for the consequences.