Led by Krishnan Sasikiran on the top board, India defeated formidable Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 in the third round of the World Team Chess Championship to emerge as joint leader in the elite event in Bursa, Turkey on Friday.
Sasikiran defeated Vugar Gashimov, one of the most impressive players of 2009, while Surya Shekhar Ganguly outplayed Gadir Guseinov on the third board to ensure the Indian victory despite G N Gopal's defeat on the fourth board against twice world junior champion Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
On the second board, P Harikrishna survived a real scare but eventually his tricky play helped salvage a draw against highly regarded Teimour Radjabov.
With six rounds still to come in this 10-teams round robin event, Armenia, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan, USA and India share the lead with four match points each.
Greece, Brazil, and Egypt have one win and two losses each and share seventh-ninth position on two match points while hosts Turkey is trailing last with no match points yet.
Pitted against the second highest rated player of the event in Gashimov, Sasikiran went for an ultra sharp variation in the Nimzo Indian defense with white pieces and got the reward when Gashimov entered a worse endgame.
Sasikiran was a delight to watch in the rest of the game, displaying his technical prowess. On the second board, Harikrishna faced a relatively less explored variation in the Slav defense against Radjabov who played white.
The latter apparently had a great advantage and even an extra pawn at one point in thegame but Harikrishna recovered in the final stages to get a crucial half point.
Ganguly was in his elements on the third board. Playing white, the Indian faced the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon and got a tiny advantage in the ensuing middle game.
The exchange of pieces at regular intervals did not deter Ganguly as he slowly increased his advantage in the heavy pieces endgame and romped home in style.
Gopal was outdone with black pieces against Mamedyarov.
Russia defeated USA team 3-1 to join the leader board. Vladimir Malakhov and Nikita Vituigov delivered the goods for the Russians on the last two boards defeating Yuri Shulman and Varuzhan Akobian respectively.
On the top boards Alexander Grischuk played out a draw with Hikaru Nakamura and on the second Alexander Morozevich signed peace with Alexander Onischuk.
This was a good come back by Russia after they lost to Greece in the second round.
In other matches of the day, Armenia had it easy against Turkey conceding just one draw in a 3.5-0.5 victory, Egypt defeated Greece 2.5-1.5 and opened their account while Israel cruised past Brazil 2.5-1.5.