India out of reckoning after 1-2 defeat against Uzbekistan

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Nonthaburi (Thailand), Feb 3 (PTI) Commonwealth Gamesbronze medallist pair of Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakravarthilost the decisive doubles rubber as India suffered a 1-2defeat against Uzbekistan and faced relegation to the AsiaOceania Group II in the Fed Cup here today.

It was India''s second consecutive defeat in Pool A ofAsia Oceania Group I in as many days and to stay in the Group,the team will have to win the play-off tie after the groupstage.

India needed to win the tie to stay in hunt for promotionto World Group II but the experienced pair of Sania and Rushmisuffered an unexpected 6-2 3-6 3-6 defeat against NiginaAbduraimova and Albina Khabibulina.

After losing to China yesterday, India needed a goodstart in today''s tie but Poojashree Venkatesha failed to dothat, surrendering 1-6 2-6 to Sabina Sharipova, who is 65places above the Indian at number 469.

However, 135th-ranked Sania brought India back with a 6-46-1 win over 555th-ranked Abduraimova in the second singlesat the National Tennis Centre.

But, in the decisive doubles rubber, the pair of Saniaand Rushmi lost, denting India''s chances of progress.

The winners of both the pools (A and B) will compete inplay-offs to decide which nation progresses to World Group IIplay-offs, to be held on April 16-17.

The team finishing third and fourth in each group willcompete in a play-off to stay in Group I as the loser will berelegated to Group II.

India were promoted to Group I last year when they wonall the three ties, beating Singapore, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstanwithout losing a rubber.

India''s best Fed Cup performance came in 2006, when itended as the runner-up in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.

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