Imagine beating Korea with an Indian team that is unanimously viewed as a third string, in the Davis Cup tie to be played at the R.K. Khanna Stadium from February 1 to 3.
The Koreans may not be the same force that they once were, when Hyung-Taik Lee was their spearhead, ranked No. 36 in the world.
The home advantage may not count for anything these days, with the true bounce of the hard courts, and players being familiar with the weather conditions. The selectors who had a limited list of available players, in the wake of a revolt by 11 players, did not have much choice. Yet, it has to be conceded that in their anxiety to select the first two available players, after Leander Paes had expressed his willingness to play the tie, the selectors missed out on a great chance to spring a surprise element that could have easily been their trump card. After selecting V.M. Ranjeet and Vijayant Malik to play the singles, the selectors made the mistake of choosing a second doubles specialist in Purav Raja. Make no mistake, there is no questioning the credentials of Raja who has had a fabulous record in the professional circuit. He does deserve his place in the squad, but not at the expense of team balance or enhancing the chances of winning the tie, rather than one rubber.
Maybe, with little communication with the leading player, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was perhaps worried that the Davis Cup legend , Paes may be offended if he was not given a suitable partner, as was the case in the Olympics in London. Despite the constraints, the selectors overlooked the valid claims of Karunuday Singh, who is ranked No. 8 in singles in the US Collegiate circuit. The 22-year-old Delhi lad has been honing his tennis skills with Paul Dale, the erstwhile coach of the Britannia Amritraj Tennis (BAT) Academy, for the last few years. KU Singh as he is popularly known in the US circuit, has been playing few tournaments in the professional circuit, and had made the semifinals of two ITF Futures events in Coimbatore and Chennai last year, after having given a glimpse of his potential by winning the Futures singles title in 2011, at the AITA headquarters in Delhi, when he beat Yuki Bhambri, Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Vijayant Malik.
Karunuday has a big game, and the heart of a champion. After Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh, he could be the next big Indian hope to be groomed in the American collegiate circuit, as he is scheduled to wind up his studies in the University of Georgia and turn professional in July.
In trying to play safe and going purely by the international ranking list, the selectors have possibly missed a chance of injecting hope in the squad with a surprise suspense element.