ISLAMABAD - Pakistan No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan rubbished the claims of Australian-based Sri Lankan origin referee Ashita Ajigala who awarded the tie to New Zealand sighting poor condition of playing field.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Thursday, Aqeel, who provided the country 1-0 lead against New Zealand in the opening match of the Davis Cup tie in Myanmar, said: “The referee ever since his arrival for the day one tried to intimidate us. He was raising eye brows and questions to almost everything which was not his duty except conducting the tie in a fair and cordial manner, but he had other plans.”

Aqeel said the covers were brought two days before the start and it was completely baseless allegation that there was no heavy roller present at the venue, as the ground staff used heavy roller before the start of the tie.

“The grass courts were perfect for playing any international match, as different events were held on regular basis at that particular venue. The matter of the fact is the New Zealand player Daniel King Turner, smelling his sure defeat at the hands of Aisam, who was one-set all and leading 3-0 in the third, used his foot to dig out a minor hole. Even that could have been filled had referee not jumped in to save the blushes of Kiwis. The referee had no right to award the tie to opponents, when everything was going smoothly. But to everyone’s surprise, the referee without any arguments or discussions with ground staff, fortified the tie in New Zealand’s favour,” he added.

“We had played the tie against Lebanon, where there were no covers on the courts. It was the mistake of ground staff as they didn't cover the courts. Only one hour rain forced the entire day’s play to be called off. We could have lodged complaint and demand the tie to be declared in our favour, but we showed sportsmanship and waited for the next day to let the tie complete. We have never seen or heard anything like this in past as there is no such example of referees awarding the tie to opponent teams and that too without any solid reason,” Aqeel said.

He said it was the moral and legal duty of International Tennis Federation (ITF) to ensure the justice should be done. “We are ready to play the tie at any given surface. It will be far better that the ITF conduct the tie in London in front of their headquarters to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Aqeel concluded.

It is pertinent to mention here that two Davis Cup ties Group III and IV will be held at the same venue in which number of teams will participate. They don't feel any security threat in Myanmar, despite completely aware of the fact how much dangerous situation is going through in that particular part of the world. The unrest, killings of innocent persons and that too in bulks is order of the day. The ITF doesn't have any problem, neither the players nor country while playing there, but when it comes to playing in Pakistan, double standards are being used. Everyone raises too many questions regarding security in Pakistan. The matter of the fact is that Pakistan is safer for all kinds of sporting activities than other countries, who are facing worst law and order situation. But due to their diplomatic channels, they are enjoying all kinds of sporting activities, but the people of Pakistan, who are well known for their sportsmanship are denied of their basic right to witness their favourite players perform in front of them.