Astana: On Friday, India's goals of qualifying for the Fed Cup World Group were dashed after hosts Kazakhstan thrashed them 3-0 in a Pool A tie here. Neither Ankita Raina nor Karman Kaur Thandi could win their singles rubbers losing to their respective opponents in straight sets and it will take some more time to realise their aspirations of making it among the elites.
It was always a climbing task for the Indians to beat the higher-ranked home players but inspirational performance by Ankita against the same players last year had raised visions of an upset. The tie again began on a losing note when Karman failed to capitalise on her chances against Zarina Diyas in her 3-6 2-6 defeat.
However in a match that lasted an hour and 22 minutes, the lanky Indian had eight break chances but converted only two against the world number 96. Like Thursday, the team looked up to Ankita for an upset win against world number 43 Yulia Putintseva to stay alive but the home player quelled the late resistance from the Indian to prevail 6-1 7-6(4) in an hour and 57 minutes.
Playing at home last year, during her unbeaten singles campaign, Ankita had beaten Yulia and other higher-ranked players from China. However, an encore did not happen. "The scoreline looks deceptive. It was a tough fight and one or two points made the difference. The Kazakh girls knew how to step up at crucial points like at 5-all. Their unforced errors were minimum," India coach Ankita Bhambri told PTI.
However, the coach said Karman played much sharper than the previous tie, stroked well and Ankita too was very strong and attacking. "We were hoping that Ankita's match will go into the third set. She did not give up until last point. Yulia's court craft was very good," Bhambri said.
In the doubles rubber, Riya Bhatia and Prarthana Thombare were thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Anna Danilina and Galina Voskoboeva in 55 minutes. The Indian team will continue to remain in the Asia/Oceania Group I, irrespective of the outcome of the outcome of tomorrow's third place tie against Korea.