Bucharest, Romania:India's dream of making the Davis Cup World Group was shattered after both Prakash Amritraj and Somdev Devvarman lost their reverse singles matches, giving Romania a 4-1 win in the play-off tie on Sunday.
India had the chance to end their campaign on a better note after Prakash had lost the first match but Somdev failed to give his team that moment as nerves got the better of him when he squandered a winnable position.
Somdev also lost a chance to record his first Davis Cup win and in a dramatic turnaround Victor Crivoi won 10 games on the trot to clinch the second reverse singles 4-6 7-5 6-3.
Somdev was serving for the match in the 10th game in the second set but dropped his serve allowing Crivoi to make a comeback.
Crivoi shifted the gear and broke Somdev in the 12th to take the set, stretching the issue to the third and final set.
High on confidence, Crivoi continued his onslaught and forced his inexperienced opponent to commit unforced errors and saved two breakpoints in the third game of the final set to get himself a 3-0 cushion.
Shaken in confidence, Somdev was soon trailing 0-5 and Crivoi served out the match in the ninth game.
Prakash, earlier, lost 2-6 3-6 1-6 to Romanian number one player Victor Hanescu to give his nation an unassailable 3-1 lead.
India thus goes back to the Asia/Oceania Group, where it will once again fight to come back to play the World Group play-offs. India last played in World Group in 1998.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had won the duobles' rubber on Saturday to keep the Indian hopes alive.
Somdev had nothing to lose when he took the court for the inconsequential second reverse singles - reduced to best of three sets - but he still wilted under pressue.
The rookie teenager, who looked a better player till 5-4 in the second set, paid the price of sticking to the baseline as his opponent used the drop shots to the net quite effectively.
Somdev double broke Crivoi, ranked 158, to win four games on the trot to shoot up to a 5-1 lead in the opening set.
But the world number ranked 242 failed to hold his serve in the next game as he handed a double breakpoint to Crivoi, who converted the first chance to try and make a comeback.
Somdev then earned two set points through a crushing inside-out forehand winner in the ninth game but Crivoi did not let the Indian cash in on it as he fought brilliantly to reduce the margin to 4-5.
The Indian player again earned three set points, squandered two, thanks to unforced errors, but finally managed to pocket the first set when a Crivoi forehand sailed long after a long rally.
The first game of the second set was fought fiercely and the Indian got two chances to get an early break but the Romania player showed determination and courage to win and succeded.
The intense battle continued in the following games as both the players fought hard for each point resulting in engrossing rallies.
Somdev saved a breakpoint in the fourth game and then broke Crivoi in the next game to create an opening.
Earlier, Victor Hanescu mercilessly crushed Prakash's challenge and knocked the Indian out in the first reverse singles to give Romania an unassailable 3-1 lead.
The Romanian number one outplayed Prakash and remained undefeated in the tie as he displayed a solid all-round game and the Indian, ranked as low as 222, had no answer to his powerful game.
Hansecu raised the tempo gradually and raised his game to a different level as the match progressed, taking it away from the Indian game after game.
Prakash did play well in flashes but it needed immense talent apart from mental toughness and continued intensity to tame a player like Hanescu.
Early trouble welcomed Prakash as he faced breakpoint in the very first game of the match but saved it via some big serves.
Hanescu continued the way he played on the first day as he served well and used the drop shots brilliantly.
The Romanian number one had pummelled Somdev Devvarman in the singles on Friday but Prakash, India's number one, was determined to give a good fight to his formidable opponent in the must-win match for the visitors.