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Fresh protest in Sabarimala        Rahul Gandhi Challenges PM Modi For Debate On Rafale Deal        New bill likely to be introduced in Parliament to rechristen names of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts        TM Krishna 'celebrates democracy' at Delhi concert        Death toll rises to 76 in California fire as Trump visits        Sri Lanka president Sirisena holds all-party meeting talks to end political crisis        Pankaj wins grand double, extends world title tally to 21        England win second Test against Sri Lanka by 57 runs        Smriti Mandhana becomes second-fastest Indian woman to reach 1000 T20I        It is quality of cricket rather than sledging that wins matches: Shastri on new Aussie approach        India in Australia: Kohli promises to not start arguments, only finish them        At Least Two Killed, Eight Injured In Blast In Karachi        Centre's New Move May Escalate Feud With RBI Ahead Of Board Meet: Report        'Gaja' crosses coast, rainfall pounds TN, 22 dead        Sabarimala board to move SC, buy time to implement order        Sabarimala board to move SC, buy time to implement order        Sindhu crashes out; Srikanth, Sameer enter quarterfinals of Hong Kong Open        No more chopping and changing till World Cup: Ravi Shastri        Air India eyes Rs 800 cr from sale of over 70 properties        Intel India opens design house costing Rs 1,100 cr at B'luru        
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Sports News
All eyes on Ankita and Karman as Fed Cup challenge begins
 
New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) It will be an uphill task for Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi to catapult India to the Fed Cup World Group Play-offs but the spirited youngsters are expected to push their rivals in the Asia/Oceania Group I competition, beginning here tomorrow.

India have not qualified for the Fed Cup World Group since 1991 and presence of strong teams such as Kazakhstan, who have top-60 players in their ranks, and China in Pool A means that the job remains tough.

Both Ankita and Karman had decent, if not great, 2017 season during which they were consistent on the ITF circuit.

Ankita also reached the singles finals at the USD 60,000 event in Luan.

Ankita has the experience of tackling top-125 players and knows what is required to pull off matches in this competition. Being the number one and most experienced player from the host team, Ankita will carry a lot of expectations on her shoulders.

But she appears confident and is raring to pull off a good performance.

"We are very positive going into this tie. We have upcoming players in the team and that will be a surprise factor for other teams. And the way I am playing, I am pretty confident about good results," Raina told PTI after a practice session.

It will be a tough and challenging first day of the tournament for India as the hosts are up against against China in their campaign opener.

Raina will lock horns with world number 120 Lin Zhu, to whom she had lost the title clash of the Luan event in May, last year.

"There is not much difference in the level of players on the ITF circuit and players on some of the WTA events. I have competed against these players before. I just need to be more consistent," Raina, ranked 253, said.

Delhi-player Karman too did well in 2017, as twice she made the singles final apart from making a lot of semifinals at the USD 25,000 level tournaments.

She will open India's campaign against world number 125 Wang Yafan.

"I want to move a step ahead and do well in this Fed Cup.

I have played good matches in the last six months but the hard work has been there for some years now," said Karman, who leaped 300 places to break into top-300 in 2017.

"They are not unbeatable. Team events are different from circuit," said Karman, ranked 284.

India captain Ankita Bhambri made it clear that home conditions would not make much of a difference.

"Both our players are coming from tournaments. We have practiced on these courts for three days now. It's going to be tough. Most of them play less here and more outside, so there is not much of a home advantage," Bhambri, herself a former Fed Cup player, said.

Raina has competed against top players like Lin Zhu and what she needs to do to pull off matches against such rivals, Bhambri's response was, "Ankita needs to play bigger points well, the deuce points, need to hold serve. It's one good break that makes the difference."

Prarthana Thombare has also improved since shifting her focus to doubles and if Pranjala Yadlapalli gets to play,she will make her Fed Cup debut.

However, the competition is stiff with teams such as Kazakhstan fielding strong players such as world number 50 Yuliya Pitintseva and world number 60 Zarina Diyas.

Japan too has a top-100 player in world number 98 Nao Hibino along with Kurumi Nara, who is ranked 103.

India have been clubbed with Kazakhstan, Hong Kong and China. The Group B comprises Japan, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Korea.

The Indian team has done well to remain in Group I and has not lost its place after reclaiming it in 2016.

Before the Indians had struggled to get out of the Asia/Oceania Group II.

India featured in World Group in July 1991 when they lost both their ties to Cuba and Thailand by a 0-3 margin in Great Britain.

The winners of each pool will play-off against one another to determine which nation advances to the World Group II play-offs, scheduled in April 2018.

The teams that finish third in each pool will have a play-off against the nations finishing fourth in the other pool (A3 v B4 and B3 v A4). The two losers will be relegated to Asia/Oceania II in 2019.


Pankaj wins grand double, extends world title tally to 21
England win second Test against Sri Lanka by 57 runs
Smriti Mandhana becomes second-fastest Indian woman to reach 1000 T20I
It is quality of cricket rather than sledging that wins matches: Shastri on new Aussie approach
India in Australia: Kohli promises to not start arguments, only finish them
Sindhu crashes out; Srikanth, Sameer enter quarterfinals of Hong Kong Open
No more chopping and changing till World Cup: Ravi Shastri
Mitchell Starc released from IPL contract ahead of Ashes, WC
World Championships: Older, wiser, stronger Mary Kom attempts to win 6th global title
India to host Italy on grass in Kolkata
It won't be easy for Mary Kom, says High Performance Director Nieva
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3rd T20: Dhawan, Pant take Ind to victory, series win
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Harmanpreet Kaur’s record century headlines India’s big win over NZ in opener
Mumbai City end NorthEast United’s unbeaten run
Chelsea beat BATE 1-0 in Europa League
Srikanth enters pre-quarterfinals of China Open
Kohli's 'leave India' response to cricket enthusiast creates controversy
Luck assists Bengaluru FC in 2-1 win over Kerala Blasters FC
KERALA NEWS
Sabarimala protests: Arrests up to 2061, Kerala HC warns police
 Thiruvananthapuram, OCT 27: As the number of people arrested for allegedly being involved in violent  
Vijayan urges UAE Keralites to back salary challenge
Sabarimala row: Protests against SC verdict continue
Balabhaskar's wife Lakshmi shifted to ICU
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Death toll rises to 76 in California fire as Trump visits
 (Chico, Nov 18, 2018):Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for and the death toll from the
Sri Lanka president Sirisena holds all-party meeting talks to end political crisis
At Least Two Killed, Eight Injured In Blast In Karachi
US, China see rival visions for entwined Asia-Pacific region
NATIONAL NEWS
Rahul Gandhi Challenges PM Modi For Debate On Rafale Deal
 (Ambikapur, Nov 18, 2018):Stepping up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Presid
New bill likely to be introduced in Parliament to rechristen names of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts
TM Krishna 'celebrates democracy' at Delhi concert
'Gaja' crosses coast, rainfall pounds TN, 22 dead
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