New Delhi April 12 :India piped Chinese Taipei 2-1 in  its third Billie Jean King Cup  Asia/Oceania Group I tennis tie at the Moon Island Clay Park in Changsha,  China on Thursday.

After both teams won one singles match each, the doubles rubber proved to be the decider and it was Ankita Raina and Prarthana Thombare who combined to sway the tie in India’s favour.

Rutuja Bhosale, ranked 379th in the world, gave India a winning start by beating Hao-Ching Chang 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 21 minutes.

World No. 255 Ankita Raina, India’s best-placed tennis player in the WTA singles world rankings, also started her match well against En Shuo Liang, Chinese Taipei’s top singles card at world No. 289.

The Indian took the first set comfortably but Liang fought back to shock Raina 6-2, 4-6, 4-6 in a marathon encounter that lasted just a minute short of two-and-a-half hours.

 Desperate to win the tie, both camps fielded their strongest possible combinations for the deciding doubles rubber.

While Raina combined with Prarthana Thombare, who is India’s best-ranked doubles player at world No. 154, the Chinese duo ofcChang and Liang, both were playing their second match of the tie.

The decider proved to be an intriguing affair with both teams going all out for the decisive win. Raina and Thombare lost the first set to Chang-Liang but fought back to level the scores in the second set and took the match into a super tie-breaker.

After a neck-to-neck battle, the Indians took the match 4-6, 6-1, 15-13 and sealed the tie.

The win lifts India to the third spot in the six-team Asia/Oceania Group I standings with two wins from three ties.  Korea are first while hosts China are second.

India need to finish in the top two to earn qualification to the play-offs while a bottom-two finish in the six-team group will see them relegated to Group II for next season .

India will face table-toppers South Korea next   on Friday.


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