CHENNAI: When Leander Paes spoke to the press a day before the Davis Cup tie vs Uzbekistan, he alleged that India skipper Mahesh Bhupathi hadn’t been transparent with him. Afterwards, Bhupathi reacted by saying he’d respond after winning.
After the 4-1 win, Bhupathi put out a long Facebook post punctuated by screenshots of his WhatsApp chat with Paes to clarify his stand in the ongoing selection controversy. Stating that he was initially a Paes fan, Bhupathi called the former out for being an island, servicing his own agenda and not showing ‘basic and mutual respect’ to teammates in the past, before lauding the Davis Cup team for doing an ‘outstanding job’ by not getting distracted.
As expected, the exchange lit up social media, with some using it as a stick to beat Paes with, while others focused on certain points that matched what Paes was complaining about.
Then, just after 10:30 pm, Paes released his own statement on Twitter, criticising Bhupathi’s move of making their private exchange public as ‘conduct unbecoming of a captain’. Paes also explained that being dropped from the team was not what irked him but that he was led up the garden path while Bhupathi clearly had other plans. “The main criteria for selection was form. That’s clearly mentioned in the exchange. This was not followed when it came to final selection,” he wrote.
“I was never categorically told that I would not be playing. But it was apparent that the decision was made before I arrived in Bengaluru. This is what I found unnecessary and disrespectful.” The 43-year-old said he wanted to provide a ‘detailed rebuttal pointing out just how one-sided and convoluted’ Bhupathi’s arguments were. “Fans just have to examine who won what for our country when representing the flag. Talk is cheap, history books, however, don’t lie”.