It was a hard fight against a champion team like Croatia, in its back yard in Zagreb, which distinguished the Indian team, except for the anticlimax.
"We should have won the first singles. That would have given us a better shot. It was an eye opener for Sumit, playing Marin Cilic. He has a lot of room for improvement," summed up the captain of the Indian team, Rohit Rajpal, after the play-off tie.
The captain’s faith in Ramkumar Ramanathan and the seasoned doubles team of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna came good, with Prajnesh Gunneswaran letting the match slip after a rousing start against Borja Gojo in the first singles.
"It was a very high quality match. The best we have played in a long time, after the one against Serbia in 2014. It was Leander’s last Davis Cup match. We have learnt a lot from him. We may have had our ups and downs, but when we step on court, we try to give our best. In today’s match, we were down, but didn’t give up," said Rohan Bopanna, who won the only rubber for India, the doubles, with Leander.
"This was going to be the last match for me in Davis Cup. The country comes first. At the end of the day, what is best for the team has to be considered. It is for the captain to decide whether I am needed or not," said Leander, even as he recalled his formative years, when he had looked up to Rohit Rajpal and Zeeshan Ali, who mentored him.
The competitive fire was still burning strong in Leander after more than 30 years of national duty.
On his part the captain Rohit Rajpal was forthright with his remarks.
"We played a hard match. On the first day, luck was not on our side. We took the pressure to the Croatian team. We should have won the first rubber. In the second match against Cilic, Ramkumar had set points in both the sets. We needed some luck. I was very confident about Leander and Rohan would give me that point. That came true," said Rohit.
"Ramkumar has been playing good in recent weeks, and has been doing well in doubles also. I saw him reaching the ATP event final in Newport couple of years ago. He has a lot of room for improvement. The quality of our singles players has to go higher. Ram, Prajnesh, Sumit, they are working hard," said Leander.
Bopanna emphasised that it was different playing on the Tour and playing Davis Cup, and once the players realised the difference, the team would progress further.
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