Odds favour Romania, India banks on miracle

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Bucharest, Romania, Sep 18 (UNI) Romania, led by world number 67 Victor Hanescu, start strong favourite as they take on India, who will be banking on a miracle, in the crucial World Group play-off tie starting here tomorrow.

The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by in-form teenager Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj in the singles while the hosts have made two changes bringing in Adrian Cruciat (ranked 170) and Victor Crivoi (158) in place of Andrei Pavel and Florin Mergea.

Horia Tecau is the fourth player of the squad which is led by non playing captain Segarceanu.

In the doubles, the tried and tested duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will once again be seen in action.

Somdev comes in the Indian squad in place of Rohan Bopanna and have a non-playing captain in S P Mishra in place of Paes who quit as playing skipper after the Beijing Olympics.

India's fate is linked with Somdev's performance who will be playing in his second Davis Cup tie.

He, however, is in good nick having won an ATP Challenger tournament in Lexington and reached quarterfinals of Vanvouver Challenger in July.

The promising youngster also reached the last-eight stage of the Washington ATP event. His ranking soared to 242 due to the stupendous run and he became the second highest ranked Indian on the ATP singles chart.

Prakash, on the other hand, has seen a sudden slump in form as he tamely lost both the Challengers at New Delhi last month.

With Prakash, struggling with his form at present, it is crucial for Somdev to win both singles, which will be nothing less then a miracle and reverse singles matches while Paes-Mahesh will have to live up to their reputation if India has to re-enter the elite group.

India last played Romania in the Davis Cup way back in 1971 in New Delhi and lost that inter-zonal round I tie 1-4.

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