Fed Cup: India bounces back in style to beat Thailand

India bounced back to win 2-1 after the 20-year-old Karman Thandi, ranked 211, was beaten in three sets by the 31-year-old Nudnida Luangnam, ranked a modest  712.

The Indian Fed Cup team with the Ambassador Prabhat Kumar, after a 2-1 win over against Thailand in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday.   -  Special Arrangement

Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi were at their fighting best in winning a marathon tie against Thailand 2-1 in the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania group-1 tennis tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday.

India bounced back after the 20-year-old Karman Thandi, ranked 211, was beaten in three sets by the 31-year-old Nudnida Luangnam, ranked a modest  712.

Ankita steered the team nicely from that point of exasperation, first by winning her singles in three sets, and then combining with Karman for an unforgettable 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5 victory in two hours and 38 minutes of pulsating doubles.

The Indian pair missed two match points at 6-4 in the second set tie-break, after it had trailed 1-5 in that set. Quite remarkably, Ankita and Karman bounced back from 3-5 in the decider, winning the last two games at love to seal victory.

After host Kazakhstan had sailed past Thailand on the opening day, the Thais were not expected to be such a challenge for the higher ranked Indian girls, but only on paper.

‘’We dodged a bullet. Thailand played exceptionally well, but we made our life tougher with lapses in concentration. In the end, we fought hard and got the job done. Even when we were down, we never gave up and kept fighting. We were more hungry to win and that saw us through’’, said the captain of the team, Vishaal Uppal.

‘’Ankita played very well. Even when she lost the first set, she had led 5-3. It is the experience of Ankita and Karman in doubles that got them through in the end. Both have a great attitude, not to give up, even in difficult situations’’, said the coach of the team Ankita Bhambri.

A lot was riding on the match, as Thailand was trying to survive in the group and India was aspiring to be ahead of Kazakhstan and fight for the promotion to World Group-2 play-off.

"Tomorrow is another day, and we have to fight better than today’’, said Ankita, about the tie against the host on Friday, in the three-team group.

‘’Recovery will be very important now, both physically and mentally. We will try our best’’, said Vishaal, quite grateful that the Ambassador Prabhat Kumar cheered the team with his presence.

The results (league): India bt Thailand 2-1 (Karman Kaur Thandi lost to Nudnida Luangnam 2-6, 6-3, 3-6; Ankita Raina bt Peangtarn Plipuech 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4; Ankita Raina & Karman Kaur Thandi bt Nudnida Luangnam & Peangtarn Plipuech 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5.