Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi kept India alive in the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs against Romania as they won the doubles tie in Bucharest on Saturday.
The veteran Indian pair had to dig deep into their bagful of tricks to stave off a spirited performance from Romania's Adrian Cruciat and Horia Tecau to script a 6-4, 7-6 (0), 6-4 victory and close the gap 1-2.
Hosts Romania had won both their singles matches on the opening day on Friday, as Victor Hanescu crushed Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 after their no.2 Victor Crivoi edged out India's top-ranked player Prakash Amritraj 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
India face a Herculean task as they will have to win both their reverse singles on Sunday to make it to the World Group.
The 'Indian Express' had to force their way from a break down in the first two sets, but the Romanian duo's inexperience at the level was exposed on the crucial points. Paes-Bhupathi were almost impenetrable at the net and raised their level of play every time the Romanians tried to wrench away the advantage.
Though they had a chance to close out the match earlier, holding three break points in the seventh game and a double match point on Cruciat's serve at 5-3, Bhupathi eked out a close service game to take the third set 6-4.