Sumit Nagal on Thursday made a comeback to the Indian Davis Cup team for the away World Group I tie against Norway while doubles specialist Divij Sharan was dropped after falling behind in the pecking order.
Expectedly, country’s number one singles player Ramkumar Ramanathan (ranked 196), Prajnesh Gunneswaran (295), Sasikumar Mukund (431), Yuki Bhambri (571), doubles exponent Rohan Bopanna (21) have been named in the team as the Nandan Bal-led selection committee picked four specialist singles players.
Arjun Kadhe (519) and Sidharth Rawat (566) are ranked above Yuki but if the Delhi player is to use his Protected Ranking, he would be in top-100. And going by the class of Yuki, it only makes sense to have a player of his calibre in the side.
Of the six players, one would be named a reserve by captain Rohit Rajpal after assessing conditions in Norway and it will be a five-member unit that will compete on September 16 and 17.
Most likely, Sasikumar, who is yet play a Davis Cup tie, will be a reserve player.
Sumit Nagal, who underwent a hip surgery in November 2021, began competing on the circuit from April this year. In eight tournaments this season, Nagal has won four matches.
The 24-year-old player from Haryana last played a Davis Cup tie against Croatia in March 2021 and missed the subsequent matches against Finland (September 2021) and Denmark (March 2022).
“The courts are expected to be slow in Norway, so Sumit comes into play there. Slow courts suit the game style of Sumit. If courts are faster we have the option of Yuki and Ramkumar. So we have to have four singles players in the side," Nandan Bal told PTI.
“Both Ramkumar and Yuki are playing doubles also and doing well. So there was no place for Divij Sharan in the side this time. He comes in only as doubles specialist and these guys can play both singles and doubles," he said.
Divij has lost his place in top-100 doubles rankings. He is now ranked 196 and there are seven Indian players ranked above him apart from the top-ranked Rohan Bopanna.
It will be first time that India and Norway will compete against each other in Davis Cup.
India had blanked Denmark 4-0 in New Delhi in the World Group Play-offs in March this year.