Sumit Nagal lost and found, coach’s woes doubled 

 Since landing in Palembang on Tuesday, Zeeshan Ali has been channelling his inner Bryan Mills, the character portrayed so famously by Liam Neeson in the Taken franchise.But with one tiny

Published: 18th August 2018 05:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2018 06:34 AM   |  A+A-

Indian tennis star Sumit Nagal | AFP

Express News Service

JAKARTA : Since landing in Palembang on Tuesday, Zeeshan Ali has been channelling his inner Bryan Mills, the character portrayed so famously by Liam Neeson in the Taken franchise. But with one tiny difference. Mills would be on the phone promising to execute perpetrators behind heinous crimes. “(...) I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.” Ali has similarly been on the phone an awful lot but he hasn’t left behind any threatening messages on voice mail. Only calls urging players to come back to play for India. 

After doing the whole charade unsuccessfully with Leander Paes, he was forced to go through the process with Sumit Nagal, who suddenly went dark over the last few days. The 21-year-old, who was going to partner with Paes in the doubles event, was scheduled to land in Palembang on Wednesday but failed to get on his flight, causing a few hairy moments for an already beleaguered tennis contingent. Nagal eventually landed late on Friday but his absence caused major confusion.

“He was supposed to fly out from Hannover on Wednesday, but he called me and said that he would leave later after finishing a prior commitment. I haven’t heard from him since then. I tried calling him up yesterday night (Thursday) but his phone was switched off. Maybe he is on the plane to Palembang but I don’t really know,” an exasperated Ali had told Express on Friday morning. Nagal’s late arrival has also complicated the make-up of the second doubles team. “I have till 10 am on Saturday to name the side. But without knowing where Nagal is, I cannot do anything,” Ali had said. 

He now knows where the former junior Wimbledon doubles winner is, but he hasn’t had a single hit with the other members of the team.This is an obvious problem because Ali has no way of knowing who among Ramkumar Ramanathan or Prajnesh Gunneswaran will be more suited for doubles play with the Haryana-born lad. There is a feeling that the former, being the higher-ranked singles player and in with a chance of winning a medal, will be excused from playing doubles, but Ali is keeping all options open.

Ali also took time to explain what transpired during a conversation he had with Paes before the 45-year-old conveyed his decision to pull out from the Games. “He told me at this point of his career he wanted to concentrate more on his rankings.” Paes, who is still in Cincinnati, will fly out to North Carolina soon to play in the Winston-Salem Open starting next week.

While the 48-year-old said Paes’ late withdrawal can’t be looked at with suspiciousness because of his prior record for the country, he questioned why Paes did not inform the management earlier. “I’m still at a loss to understand this. Why did he have to pull out now? If he had conveyed his decision to us some two-three weeks ago, we could have been in a position to name a doubles replacement. I cannot do that now.”


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