KARACHI (Reuters) - Pakistan officials have complained to tennis governing body the ITF that their players were left distraught and the team suffered financial loss after they were disqualified from a Davis Cup tie against New Zealand.
Pakistan were on course to take a 2-0 lead in the three-day Asia/Oceania Group II tie on Friday when Sri Lankan referee Asitha Attygalla abandoned the contest due to an “unplayable court” in the neutral venue of Yangon, Myanmar.
As the encounter had been a designated ‘home’ tie for Pakistan, who are unable to host matches due to security concerns, Attygalla awarded victory to New Zealand.
Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Kaleem Imam told Reuters that Attygalla’s decision was a “disaster” and added: “Our manager said the players were very distraught after the referee’s decision.
“We spent thousands of dollars on preparing for this tie and sending a full-fledged squad to Yangon. We were desperate to win this tie and confident we could do it.
“We had no option but to complain to the ITF (International Tennis Federation) after the referee awarded the entire tie to New Zealand claiming the playing surface was dangerous.”
Pakistan’s Aqeel Khan beat New Zealand’s Artem Sitak in the opening singles while Pakistan doubles specialist Aisam Qureshi was leading Daniel King Turner 6-2 3-6 3-0 in the second singles when the Sri Lankan referee halted the tie.
New Zealand captain Alistair Hunt said on Friday the match had to be abandoned because a hole about “an inch deep and half a foot wide... opened up on the baseline, which proved too dangerous to play on”.
Pakistan, however, feel the court was still playable.
“What we have complained is that when the grass surface was okay for the first match, what went wrong in just a few hours time that it turned unplayable? We also met all requirements asked for by the referee,” Imam said.
The PTF official said Pakistan had chosen Yangon, Myanmar as a venue over Dubai and India because of the grass courts which Pakistani players favor.
Pakistan have been forced to host international matches in many sports at neutral venues as foreign teams have refused to travel to the country after eight Pakistanis were killed following an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in March 2009.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar