Paes at it again

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By (AGENCIES) in Almaty
  • Published 9.04.07

Almaty: The old warhorse had to join the battlefield and he won it for his country, for the umpteenth time.

India were up against lightweights Kazakhstan, but with Rohan Bopanna losing the first reverse singles on Sunday, it was all square in the Asia-Oceania group I relegation first round tie.

Out came captain and doubles specialist Leander Paes, replacing the inexperienced Karan Rastogi who was the official No. 2 singles player. The decider was too tense an affair for Rastogi to handle, Paes felt and took upon the responsibility on his broad and experienced shoulders.

Paes dropped the first set in a tie-breaker before coming through 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 against Dmitry Makeyev to give India a 3-2 victory. Alexey Kedryuk had earlier overcome Indian No. 1 Bopanna 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4 to level scores.

Paes, who no longer plays singles, had done something similar last year in the tie against Pakistan at the CCI in Mumbai. He had come on for the final rubber and won a memorable match to clinch it 3-2 for India.

Paes’ heroics meant that India would stay in group I of the zonal competition next year. Kazakhstan will have to play off in September for a berth in next year’s group I.