In a twist of fate, reminiscent of his father’s historic journey in 1964, Zeeshan Ali is set to lead the Indian Davis Cup team against Pakistan. Six decades after Akhtar Ali played a crucial role in India’s victory in Pakistan, his son Zeeshan will assume the role of captain and coach for the team. This emotional moment unfolds as regular skipper Rohit Rajpal faces personal issues at home, preventing him from traveling to Islamabad.
The All India Tennis Federation (AITA) secretary general, Anil Dhupar, announced Zeeshan’s appointment, expressing confidence in his leadership. “He (Zeeshan) will be the captain for this tie, and I firmly believe that India would put up a strong performance under his captaincy in Pakistan,” said Dhupar. This move is particularly significant for Zeeshan, who has been India’s coach since 2013 and has a deep connection to the Davis Cup legacy.
Zeeshan reflects on the sentimental value of the occasion, saying, “My father was part of that 1964 team, so to be here with the Indian team after 60 years is indeed a great moment for me and my family.” Despite the emotional weight, he is optimistic about the team’s performance in the upcoming tie on February 3-4. “I am sure the boys will put up a great show, and we win this tie,” Zeeshan told PTI.
Acknowledging the honor bestowed upon him, Zeeshan recognizes the unique journey from being a player to coach and now captain. “It’s a great honor and an opportunity to serve India,” he added. While expressing gratitude for the confidence placed in him, Zeeshan also mentions the absence of Rohit Rajpal and the foresight of a possible shift in responsibilities.
Having been an integral part of the Indian Davis Cup setup, Zeeshan is familiar with the job’s intricacies. “I know the job, and that makes my job as captain easier. The players know me, and I know them.” Despite the change in designation, Zeeshan emphasizes that the fundamental approach remains unchanged.
As the anticipation builds for the historic India-Pakistan clash, Zeeshan underscores the professionalism of the players and their ability to treat it as any other match. While acknowledging the hype surrounding the rivalry, he emphasizes the team’s focus on the task at hand. The clash holds significant stakes for both sides, with Pakistan seeking a win and India defending their favorites’ status.
In this unique chapter of Davis Cup history, Zeeshan Ali steps into the captain’s chair, continuing the legacy set by his father on the same soil six decades ago.