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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

forfeiture in Sports ~ Davis Cup and Test at Oval - Afridi knows no history !!

Former Pakistan player Shahid Afridi who courts controversy again and again,  reacted angrily to Gautam Gambhir’s suggestion that India should not play against Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup in England.  As most angry reactors are, Afridi knows little of history or Truth !

In Feb, with not all of us following - Prajnesh Gunneswaran failed to pull off an upset against Italy's Andreas Seppi and India were eliminated from the Davis Cup after losing the knockout World Group Qualifiers 3-1. After choosing the grass of Calcutta South Club, India had given themselves the best chance against hard court and clay lovers Italy but India's weakness in singles bit them once again. India's top singles player Prajnesh was up against Italy's most experienced player Seppi;  the Italian proved to be just too good for the Indian.  With Prajnesh's 1-6, 4-6 loss, India lost the tie and Ramkumar Ramanathan's final singles rubber was not even played. India had received momentary hope in the tie from the doubles win of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan but Prajnesh could not be up to the task.  To all Tennis lovers of this land – have you heard of Jasjit Singh ?  ~ a former Professional Tennis player of  India. 

South Africa's Lloyd Harris reached the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time at Roland Garros on Monday, lending weight to his nickname of 'The King'. The 22-year-old from Cape Town defeated Czech veteran Lukas Rosol 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6- - "I was only 19 when I made it into the South Africa Davis Cup team which was a group full of older guys -- 27, 28, and into their 30s," Harris told AFP.  Davis Cup !!

The Davis Cup is the premier international team event in men's tennis,  run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), contested annually between teams from competing countries in a knock-out format. It is described by the organisers as the "World Cup of Tennis", and the winners are referred to as the World Champion team.  The competition began in 1900 as a challenge between Great Britain and the United States.  The most successful countries over the history of the tournament are the United States (winning 32 tournaments and finishing as runners-up 29 times.) The present champions are Croatia, who beat France to win their second title in 2018.

Jasjit Singh born in Delhi, became the first Sikh to play for India Davis cup team, selected for 1974 Davis Cup. His first appearance was a loss to Japan's Toshiro Sakai in a dead rubber, as India had already secured the tie. India then faced the Australian team in the Eastern Zone final and Jasjit was chosen ahead of Anand Amritraj to play the first singles rubber.  In front of a Calcutta crowd, Singh managed to beat his Australian opponent Bob Giltinan in four sets, to give India a 1–0 lead.  John Alexander won; India came back strongly in the doubles;  Singh lost the reverse singles to  Alexander.  India won the tie 3–2 after Vijay Amritraj defeated Giltinan in the deciding match.

India has had some successes in Davis cup with noteworthy victories in the tournament between 1921-1929, defeating the likes of France, Romania, Holland, Belgium. Spain and Greece – all of them strong teams with top-ranked players – among others. The inspirational performances from Cotah Ramaswamy and Krishna Prasad brought laurels to the country. India regularly won the Zonal finals in the 1960s and played the Inter-Zonal finals during the 1960s.  India reached its first final in 1966 which is widely considered its best ever result in the tournament. Powered by the legendary Ramanathan Krishnan and Jaideep Mukherjea, India beat Brazil 3-2 in the Inter-Zonal Final at Kolkata to qualify for the Challenge Round but lost 1-4 to Australia, Krishnan and Mukherjea managed to beat the 1965 Wimbledon champions Newcombe and Roche in the doubles.

The 1974 Davis Cup was the 63rd edition of the most important tournament between national teams in men's tennis. 57 teams would enter the competition, 33 in the Europe Zone, 12 in the Americas Zone, and 12 in the Eastern Zone.  South Africa defeated Colombia in the Americas Zone final, India defeated Australia in the Eastern Zone final, and Italy and the Soviet Union won the Europe Zones. In the Inter-Zonal Zone, South Africa defeated Italy and India defeated the Soviet Union.

The final,  was scheduled to be completed by 1st Dec 1974, but India forfeited the match – yes, under instructions from the Govt., India did not want to play South Africa and the match was awarded to South Africa by default.     After defeating Australia and Russia, India had a realistic chance of winning the Cup, but he Congress Govt ruled by Mrs Indira Gandhi decided that they would not play against SA, in protest of Apartheid practice prevalent in the country.  The decision, which most believe came from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, ceded the Cup to South Africa and came as a crushing disappointment for the players on both teams.  The boycott did spare the South African officials that ran Ellis Park in Johannesburg, which was scheduled to host the matches, from having to accommodate Indian fans.

.. .. well, that is not all ~  in 2009 - International Tennis Federation (ITF)  declared India the winner of  Davis Cup tie in Chennai after Tennis Australia (TA) said it would not send a team due to security fears.  By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia  forfeited the tie.

Afridi may not know or follow Tennis – yet Afridi though not part of playing X1 was part of that tour 2006 – 4th Test at Oval reaching an end, after an extraordinary day of rumour, speculation, and high farce that brought the game to the brink of one of the biggest crisis in recent memory. The decision was finally made at 10pm London time, in a makeshift press conference hall in the bowels of the Oval pavilion. It was the first such forfeiture in 129 years of Test cricket. Four long hours after play was called off for the day, and after protracted negotiations between the ICC, the ECB and the PCB, it was left to David Collier, the ECB's chief executive, to read out a statement that will doubtless raise more questions than answers. According to Surrey officials, 12,000 tickets had been sold in advance - all of which will now have to be refunded, along with 40% of day's takings - a combined loss of about £400,000. The initial incident took place in the 56th over, when umpires Darrel  Hair and Billy Doctrove deemed that the quarter seam on the ball had been raised and would therefore have to be changed. But the situation only really kicked off after tea, as the Pakistanis remained in their dressing-room in protest at the decision.

Pakistan became the first team in 129 years to forfeit a Test, after taking umbrage at being punished for ball-tampering on the fourth day of the Oval Test of 2006 by the umpires, Australian Darrell Hair and West Indian Billy Doctrove. What began simply as a five-run penalty soon escalated into a diplomatic standoff and an issue of national pride. Pakistan refused to take to the field after tea, and though they changed their minds later, the match was forfeited.

.. .. .. this time, the forfeiture, if it happens, if India, refuses to play Pakistan, could be lucky for Pak in earning points, as they have never beaten India in a Cricket World Cup.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th May 2019.

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