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Paes takes India past Kazakhstan

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April 08, 2007 19:23 IST

Leander Paes again did the winning turn, defeating Dmitriy Makeyev in the deciding singles to help India beat Kazakhstan 3-2 in the Asia Oceania Group I relegation play-off tie in Almaty on Sunday.

Paes, who last played singles exactly a year ago to power India to a narrow win over Pakistan, replaced 20-year-old Karan Rastogi in the second reverse singles and beat Makeyev 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Kazakhstan's top player Alexei Kedryuk kept the tie alive as he beat Rohan Bopanna 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4. The 26-year-old from Coorg, who staged a remarkable recovery after being two sets down, twisted his ankle during the fifth set as Kedryuk leveled drew the tie.

After the teams had shared honours on Day 1, Paes-Bopanna won the doubles easily to give India the crucial lead into the third day.

Paes, the most successful Indian Davis Cup player with 81 victories (including 33 in doubles), once again picked himself over Rastogi, who made his Davis Cup debut in the previous tie against Uzbekistan, for the deciding rubber.

Facing the 23-year-old Makeyev, who is ranked outside 1000, Paes lost the first set in tie-break before stamping his class by taking the next three.

India will thus remain in Group I. But Paes, choosing to play the fifth rubber once again, exposed the lack of depth in the team. India, a former finalist, have failed to progress to the World Group since 1998.