Sehwag and Dhoni were never the best of friends, but they played together, bringing laurels for the country and India won the World Cup despite their differences. Gambhir was baffled when Kohli was chosen as Dhoni’s deputy, but instead of behaving in an immature manner, he put a formidable show with the bat in Asia Cup and was involved in several match-winning partnerships with Virat.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, two of India’s most talented tennis players of modern era are going through the same phase. The duo who have given us several moments to be proud of is no more ‘doubles partner’, they have rather become ‘troubles partner’ for each other. Bhupathi who has called Paes a ‘back-stabber’, a ‘liar’ and what not recently, should not forget the fact that it was because of Leander Paes that he rose to fame. The way he is dictating terms to pair with Bopanna, it seems as if he guarantees a gold medal at the London Olympics.
Amid all the washing of dirty linen in public, it is difficult to understand what the All Indian Tennis Association is up to? Why are they willing to demean their position as a sporting body? At the start of this controversy, they had made their stand clear, which was to back Paes. The AITA initially said that it would send just one team to London, a move which further clarified what their stand was as far as Paes was concerned. But after Bhupathi, when Rohan Bopanna too refused to partner Paes, the AITA began to lose its grip over the position that they had taken on the whole issue. Having noticed this, Paes said that he would pull out from the Olympics if the tennis association was to send two teams to UK. Hours after Paes’ statement, AITA announced two teams for London Olympics, one which had Bhupathi and Bopanna and the other in which Paes was paired with Vishnu Vardhan (world ranking 206).
The 39-year-old was baffled with this move and as he had warned, decided to pull out of London Olympics. The AITA who has made several glaring mistakes in the entire procedure, immediately flew senior selector Rohit Rajpal to London to pacify Paes.
Is this how a sporting body functions? Running after players to pacify them, when they knew the repercussion of it and pleading before players who revolt against them? Why can’t they have a meeting with all the probables and discuss the issues face to face with a sense of authority? Why can’t they take disciplinary action against Bhupathi and Bopanna? What message are they giving to the upcoming youngsters? The issue could have been dealt with in a professional manner rather than adhering to diplomacy to keep everyone happy, meanwhile tarnishing their own image.
Leander Paes might have done a number of injustices to Bhupathi and Bopanna but undoubtedly, he is India’s highest ranked tennis player and thus has a slight edge over others when it comes to representing the country at London Olympics. And in that situation, he has every right to choose a player he should pair with.
Paes might have not played with an Indian partner for the last six months, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to go to London. Bhupathi has referred to pairing with Paes as "the worst possible in the interest of the country", but what he is doing at the moment isn’t the best either.
A medal will wash all the painful memories of the sordid saga that the country has been witness to in the past one week. However, with just 35 days to go for the London games, it’s time that the senior players reunite for the country’s pride.