It appears that home advantage is not the only thing that Pakistan might have lost in its pursuit of hosting the Davis Cup tie against New Zealand.
In Dec 2009, NZ had requested the International Tennis Federation to shift its (probable) group-II semi-final tie with Pakistan, either to NZ or to a different venue, due to the prevailing security situation. The Pakistan Tennis Federation objected to any change in venue, with its secretary Rashid Khan stating, “We want the ITF to either allow us to host the tie in Pakistan or award us a walkover against New Zealand”.
However, in the wake of the recent Lahore blasts, the PTF has finally given up on the possibility of hosting the tie.
Given the fact that Pakistan have played their last three Davis Cup ties – against Oman, the Philippines and Hong Kong – away from home due to foreign teams’ security reservations over traveling to Pakistan and that a Cricket Test series between NZ and Pakistan scheduled to be played in Pakistan last year was moved to NZ, one wonders what was the PTF thinking before raising the objection with ITF.
Apparently, the PTF’s argument cited the example of last year’s India-Aus Davis Cup tie when the ITF declared India the winner after Australia decided against sending its team. While in theory the two cases seem similar, the ground realities are significantly different.
In India’s case, independent security consultants, Olive Group, had declared Chennai as a safe venue to host the tie. Also, other sporting events continued to be played across the country and even in Chennai e.g. the English cricket team which went home in the middle of an ODI series after the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks, came back to play the scheduled test series within days.
In Pakistan’s case, when even the National Games have been postponed, how can the PTF (or any other sporting body) imagine hosting an International team.
The security situation is really unfortunate and there is absolutely nothing that organizations like the PTF can do about that. But the sensible thing would have been to be realistic and instead bargain for a neutral venue of their choice e.g. Middle-east, where they would at least have more support as opposed to playing in NZ.
Alas, the PTF hasn’t learnt from a similar blunder committed by the PCB when it arrogantly insisted on either co-hosting next year’s cricket world cup or suggested the event be moved out of the sub-continent altogether. In the process, the PCB might have received financial compensation but lost traditional friends like the BCCI and SLCB.