Bengaluru: Following Leander Paes’ criticism against Mahesh Bhupathi’s selection criteria and his allegations of inconsistencies in his policy and bias, the latter hit back with vigour following his team’s victory over Uzbekistan. Bhupathi pulled no punches during his verbal backhands against his former doubles partner turned rival.
“I met Leander at the Dubai Open and reached out to him, being the captain, to see what his his stance was about playing the Davis Cup in the current situation. On March 5, the day before the selection committee met, I sent him a message telling him candidly that I am going to ask for six in the team. And that I would respect his decision if he decided not to come and if he wanted to wait till he was guaranteed a spot in the four,” he remarked.
“He said that if he was in the six, he would be happy to come and that playing Davis Cup is priority. It was pretty unfortunate what happened on Wednesday or Thursday especially when we had two debutants in the team. My focus was always to keep them focused so that they can make a good debut. unfortunately things got out of hand and I didn’t really want to respond because my job is to keep the team as relaxed as possible to get through the tie,” Bhupathi finished praising his team for their concentration during the melee.
The 42-year-old also cleared the air about the selection criteria which was questioned vehemently by Paes.
“Leander didn’t meet criteria. There were five things in my criteria. Obviously fitness was one and Leander was the only one out of these players who did not do the fitness test at the place I asked him to. So I don’t think he should be the one boasting about criteria. He’s extremely proud of the fact that he won that Challenger in Leon.“Rohan (Bopanna) has played Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios so it’s not a debate that I want to get into. My criteria is not one or two things, it’s five things and none of them were really met so there’s no debate on that one,” he stressed. The captain also pointed fingers at Paes’ attitude after the latter left for Houston for a tournament after the first day.