ISLAMABAD

22-year old Samir Iftikhar restored some pride for Pakistan as he beat 29-year old P Isarow in the fifth and final reverse singles match on the third and last day of their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II 3rd Round final match against hosts Thailand. Sunday Pakistan lost the tie 4-1 played at The National Development Center, Nonthaburi, Thailand.

Pakistan number 2 player M Abid Mushtaq,20, was completely outclassed by 33-year veteran D Udomchoke in the 4th reverse singles match. Abid started the proceedings for Pakistan in the dead rubber reverse singles match but it was too much asking from the young lad, who had not even outside chance against the highly experienced opponent. Udomchoke race onto take the first set without dropping a single game as Abid was finding it really difficult to settle down against a fully charged opponent. Abid just managed to take one game in the second set, which Udomchoke managed to win 6-1. Third set was almost identical to the second as Udomchoke won the set 6-2 to keep intact home side’s 100 percent record against visitors.

In the fifth and final reverse singles match, which was also the last of the tie, Pakistan’s future hope Samir takes on Isarow. Samir displayed some quality tennis and match fire to fire before losing the first set 4-6. But the young lad bounced back in style in the second set and showed why he is rated so highly by pundits as Samir won the game 6-3. The score was 1-1 in the third set when cramps forced Isarow to take injury time out but hot and humid conditions had taken its toll as Isarow had to retire from the match, which gave Samir his very first Davis Cup victory.

Although Pakistan team failed to win the final, but some harsh facts should be kept in mind before criticising the boy’s. First of all Pakistan’s main and number 1 player Aqeel Khan was not even half fit as shoulder injury kept him away from competitive action for more than three months. Just for the sheer love of country, Aqeel put his playing career on stake and took pain killer injections, against the advice of doctors back home. But even after taking huge risk, Aqeel couldn’t prevent Thailand from posting a comprehensive victory. Time is ripe that Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) take some bold and stiff decisions otherwise they should be prepared for more results like these in future too. The PTF has to dig deep to find replacements of aging Asiam and Aqeel upon whom they are dependent for 17 years. Abid, Yaisr and other talented players should be given much-needed international exposure if Pakistan wants to perform well.