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India win first leg in Pakistan

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November 07, 2006 18:46 IST

India's Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse overcame stiff resistance from Pakistani pair of Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan to win the first leg of the India-Pakistan tennis series 2-1 in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Bopanna and Ghouse got the better of the Pakistani duo 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in an evenly contested match at the Islamabad Club clay court.

On Monday, Davis Cupper Bopanna lost a three-set thriller to Pakistan captain Qureshi but Karan Rastogi swept away Aqeel in straight sets to share honours 1-1.

Tuesday's deciding rubber saw intense fight with each side refusing to lose serve. However, the Indians came good when it mattered most and went one up winning the first set with 6-4 scoreline.

The Pakistanis came back strongly in the second set and was on the verge of taking it, earning three set points in the 12th game when they were 6-5 up and Bopanna serving.

Down 0-40, the Indians executed a remarkable recovery, winning five successive points to level 6-6 and went for the tie-break which they won 7-4 with Aqeel Khan hitting a service return into the net to set up India's win in the first ever tennis series between the two countries.

Qureshi braved a family tragedy -- his grandmother had died recently -- and fetched the lead for his country, taming big-serving Bopanna 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in a see-saw match on Monday. But, Rastogi was irresistible against Aqeel as the Indian chalked out a facile 6-0, 6-4 win to draw parity.

Qureshi broke Bopanna in the eighth game and there was no looking back as he walked away with the first set.

Bopanna raised his game in the next set, forcing the tie-breaker before eventually winning it.

The third set was also an intense affair before the Pakistani came from behind to win the set and the match.

The second match, however, was a one-sided affair with Rastogi blanking Aqeel. Though the Pakistani Davis Cupper put up a better show in the second set, it was too little and too late.

Both the teams will now move to Lahore to play the second Test of the four-match series on grass on November 8-9.

The last two Tests will be played in Chandigarh (November 10-11) and Delhi (November 12-13).