Christchurch, July 17 (IANS) Yuki Bhambri helped the Indian tennis team to even the honours after compatriot Somdev Devvarman lost the opening rubber on the first day of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I second round clash against New Zealand here on Friday.
The 148th ranked Devvarman had a solid start as he won the opening two sets 6-4, 6-4 of the first singles match against 44th ranked Michael Venus. However, the 30-year-old Indian ran out of steam as he went on to lose the next three sets 3-6, 3-6, 1-6 to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
But Bhambri, ranked 151st, appeared in top form to beat Jose Statham, ranked 345, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 on the indoor hard courts of the Wilding Park Tennis Centre to level the contest 1-1.
Saturday will see the lone doubles match between Indian combine Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni and hosts Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak before the crucial reverse singles are played on Sunday.
The winning nation will progress to the World Group Play-offs. When it comes to head-to-head, India leads 4-3, having won the last four contests between the two countries — the last one being in 2012 when India whitewashed the Kiwis in Chandigarh.