Asian Games gold medallist Divij Sharan is set to play only his second-ever Davis Cup tie and his first since 2012 after being included in the Indian team for the World Group Qualifier against Italy.

The tie is scheduled to take place on February 1 and 2 in Kolkata. An All India Tennis Association source told PTI that the new selection committee, led by Rohit Rajpal, has largely gone by the rankings. “It picked the best four available singles players and the top-two doubles player,” said the source.

Sharan had missed out on playing the Serbia tie due to a shoulder injury. The left-hander from Delhi, ranked 39, will play in the doubles alongside Rohan Bopanna, with whom he has paired for 2019 on the Pro Tour.

Sharan had made his Davis Cup debut against New Zealand, playing the doubles rubber with Vishnu Vardhan, in India’s 5-0 whitewash of the visitors. As Yuki Bhambri continues to miss out due to his knee injury, the singles duties will be handled by Prajnesh Gunneswaran (110) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (132).

Saketh Myneni (259), who ended a runner-up at the Bengaluru Challenger and has qualified for the Maharashtra Open, has retained his place. N Sriram Balaji, who played the inconsequential fourth rubber against Serbia’s Pedja Kristin, has been dropped from the squad along with Arjun Kadhe.

The team has a new member in young Sasi Kumar Mukund, who was impressive in the 2018 season. He has zoomed to 295 after beginning the 2018 season at a lowly 426. Veteran Leander Paes continues to remain on the sidelines. He is country’s third highest-ranked player at 63 in the world. India will host Italy on grass courts of South Club. A total of 24 teams will play in the knockout qualifiers on February 1 and 2 to decide the 12 teams will play the year-end Finals.

Twelve winners in February will join these six teams for the 18-team Finals in Madrid on November 2019. According to the new format, only four semifinalists from 2018 season along with two wild cards Argentina and Britain have a direct entry.

India lost their World Group Play-off to Serbia while Italy lost their quarter-final to France. Since India are ranked 20, they have another shot at the World Group.

Squad: Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Divij Sharan, Rohan Bopanna, Saketh Myneni and Sasi Kumar Mukund.