Davis Cup Tennis Pakistan face uphill task


The Davis Cup quarterfinals are being played this weekend. Among the significant ties, Spain has a 2-0 lead over the United States, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez both winning their matches against Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish respectively. The fact that both the American singles players are over 30 should not be lost on their fellow countrymen. There is a serious dearth of quality players in the US.
The emerging Ryan Harrison and Sweeting still have question marks about their game and temperament and there are few others who are showing promise. The problem here is that tennis is competing with baseball, basketball and American football for talented youngsters. But that does not explain why a country like Serbia can have some of the very best players in our world from population the size of one US city.
According to some European experts, the problem could be the hard, fast courts that are predominant in the USA. As discussed earlier, these courts encourage serve and volley, shorter points. The ground strokes never get the consistency and pace that the Europeans and others get from learning on red clay courts. The result is that out of the top 10 players in the world, 9 have learned the game on red clay.
Pakistan is facing South Korea in their Group 2 tie in South Korea. The first day did not go well for our boys, with both Aisam and Aqeel losing their singles. The two are expected to win the doubles, but will face an uphill task on the final day if they are to salvage this tie. Aisam had come straight from the Wimbledon grass courts where he had performed below his best. Aqeel had served a stint with the Sri Lankan Davis Cup team before joining the ongoing camp in Islamabad.
It is becoming more and more evident, that as they grow older, Aisam’s and Aqeel’s priorities will be more towards their own futures. Aisam will be trying to win a major title in doubles while Aqeel will be looking for some financial security. The problem for Pakistan is that there are no adequate replacements in the wings. The eight-year black hole that was Dilawar Abbas’ and Major Rashid’s legacy to Pakistan tennis, will take some years to fill.
The PTF President Kaleem Imam is acutely aware of that and is making every effort to bridge this gap, but it will take years not months to do so. The PTF is holding training camps, sending out teams, finding sponsors, doing everything in their power to turn the tide and to an extent, they are succeeding. The overall attitude has changed. The players are now trusting the Federation and realize that they will no longer be victimized as in the past, even though some remnants of the Abbas/Rashed team are still around. Maj. Rashed has been sending messages to the parents of some of the players that he was glad to have victimised their children for the past eight years!!
India and England are warming up for their Test series by playing against the West Indies and Sri Lanka respectively. India, who are missing Tendulkar and Sehwag, are one up in the Test series after having won the ODIs by 3-2. They are currently in a strong position in the third Test with the ever reliable M.S. Dhoni rescuing them from a difficult position. England won the Test series against Sri Lanka and are currently embroiled in the decider in the ODI series.
Sri Lanka are finding it difficult to run through batting sides after the retirement of Muttiah Muralidharan. It was Murali, who was the man responsible for Sri Lanka’s rise, even though his bowling action had been called into question by umpires and experts on more than one occasion. Now the Sri Lankan’s have no demon bowler, Mendes’ wiles having been sorted out by most batsmen.
There is a view among many cricket experts that the doosra is in itself an illegal delivery, that it cannot be bowled without a significant straightening of the bowling arm. Even some Sri Lankan experts that this scribe has spoken to, were noncommittal about Murali’s bowling action, clearly exposing their doubts about its legality. Could it be that when the bowlers are tested in the laboratory, they refrain from straightening their arms too much, but when in the heat of the action in the field, they go ahead with it.
Eventually, it should be the umpire’s decision as to which delivery is legal or not, but overloaded as they are with so much work in the field, it would take a brave umpire to call a bowler for throwing. Perhaps the turning point might come when a batsman would appeal to the third umpire on account of a bowler’s action.
That would set the cat among the pigeons.
The England-India series promises to be a doozy, with two of the best Test teams fighting it out to decide the best in the world. England are looking very strong, with a stable of tall pace bowlers who can make the ball rise from short of a length. They also have Graeme Swann one of the best spinners on the circuit. India should have Tendulkar and Sehwag back, two batsmen who can reduce any attack to shambles. They also have Zaheer, Harbajan and a revitalized Sharma. It should make for some riveting viewing.