Veteran tennis star Leander Paes has returned to India's Davis Cup squad for the 2018 Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie against China scheduled for April 6 and 7 in Tianjin.
The six-member squad was announced after a meeting of the Senior Selection Committee held in New Delhi on Sunday, March 11.
The 44-year-old, who was dropped from India's tie against Uzbekistan in April last year, will be part of the team, which includes Rohan Bopanna, Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Sumit Nagal and Divij Sharan, who has been named as the reserve player.
Paes, who made his way back into the top-50 of men's doubles rankings, had finished runners-up with Jamie Cerretani of the United States at an ATP 500 tournament in Dubai in March. He is a win away from breaking Nicola Pietrangeli world record of 43 Davis Cup doubles wins.
Notably, Paes and the team's non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi were involved in an infamous spat over the decision to drop the former from the final team for the Uzbekistan tie in Bengaluru.
Paes was also ignored for India's World Group play-off tie against Canada in September last year. India suffered a 3-2 defeat to Canada despite spirited performances from singles players — Bhambri and Ramanathan as the doubles pairing of Bopanna and Purav Raja lost their rubber to Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
AITA wants players to bury differences
The 18-time Grand Slam doubles champion was in contention to make a comeback as an All India Tennis Association (AITA) source had told the Press Trust of India that the selectors wanted to include the experienced campaigner in the squad. He also expressed disappointment at India's loss to Canada, which deprived them of a spot in the 16-team World Group in 2018.
The strain in the relationship between Paes and Bhupathi was pointed out to the official. However, he revealed the selection committee would consider the former despite the differences.
"The Chairman informed the Committee [selection] that the Executive committee discussed the Davis Cup in its meeting held on 10th March 2018 and noted reservations expressed by some of the players, an AITA press release said.
"It was finally decided by the Executive Committee that the selection committee should select the best team irrespective of the reservations. Any issues between the players had to be settled in a nice manner in the interest of the nation between themselves."