VETERAN TENNIS STAR Leander Paes makes a return to the country's Davis Cup team as India named a four-member squad for the World Group play-off tie at home against top seeds Czech Republic from September 18-20.
42-year-old Paes is back in the team after missing the 3-2 victory over New Zealand in March. He will be joined by Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri, who played a decisive role in Indian's victory over New Zealand in the Asia-Oceania Group I tie in Christchurch.
Young Saketh Myneni who played in the doubles in New Zealand was dropped to make way for Paes. Myneni, however, has been named a reserve along with Ramkumar Ramanathan by the All India Tennis Association selection committee.
"The Selection Committee meeting was held a few days back and Leander Paes has been named in the team. Saketh Myneni has been dropped," selection committee chairman S P Mishra told PTI.
"Somdev Devvvarman and Yuki Bhambri will play the singles while Paes and Rohan Bopanna will play the doubles," he said.
23-year-old Bhambri, who won the deciding fifth rubber in Christchurch to earn India a meeting with the three-time champion Czechs, is ranked 146 in the world while 30-year-old Somdev is currently world number 148.
"Leander had made himself available, so he and Rohan Bopanna were the obvious choice for the doubles. It's a strong doubles combination. Somdev and Yuki have been doing well and they too were easy choices for singles," coach Zeeshan Ali said.
Captain Anand Amritraj will be banking on his world-class pairing of Bopanna and Paes to clinch the doubles rubber in what looks to be a testing tie for the Indians, which will take place at the R K Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi on an outdoor hardcourt.
Doubles world number 33 Paes first competed in the Davis Cup in 1990, meaning that his career in the competition will now span a phenomenal 25 years. He has played in 51 ties so far, winning in 89 rubbers to just 32 defeats.