New Delhi: Leander Paes will be leading a Davis Cup team of largely uncapped players in February's Asia Oceania first round tie against Uzbekistan. This means that in just over a week, 19-year-old Vivek Shokeen will have to adjust his game to a much higher level. Shokeen is yet to win a career title, but his surprise inclusion came as a result of the equally surprising pull out of Rohan Bopanna, something the selectors say they only read in the newspapers. The selectors say they had absolutely no alternative. Bopanna's absence is a big blow for both the singles and doubles rubbers. Rastogi excited Attempting to step into that breach will be Karan Rastogi, currently the highest ranked Indian in the team. His ranking improved by over 100 places after a few big wins at the Chennai Open in January. He followed that with a creditable showing at the Doha Asiad. "I am excited. I thought that I would be in the team because the last couple of months have been very good. It has been slow and steady progress." "I have not jumped up the rankings like others, but at the same time I think I am on the right track. I am improving with every tournament that I am playing but still have a long way to go," said Karan Rastogi, World No 370. Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj's absence also creates the space for Som Dev Burman, a top 10 player on the US collegiate circuit, and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, who is expected to pair up with Leander for the doubles. Rohan Bopanna says that he is pulling out of this Davis Cup tie to improve his rankings, but there is overwhelming speculation that he is reluctant to play because of the spat between Leander and Mahesh Bhupathi in Doha. The current circumstances are not the best for the youngsters to make their debut, and although they have all of Leander's experience to bank on, beating the Uzbeks on their home turf won't be easy.
Topics : Tennis