Rohan Bopanna-Leander Paes win do-or-die doubles, but Croatia advance to World Group Finals.
Sumit Nagal was routed by Marin Cilic after big-serving Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes won the do-or-die doubles as India lost the Davis Cup Qualifiers 1-3 to Croatia, in Zagreb, on Saturday.
Nagal could win just one game in the match, which the 2014 US Open Champion won 6-0, 6-1 in just 56 minutes.
Captain Rohit Rajpal had dropped Nagal on the opening day of the tie but gave him a chance to prove a point. However, the young Indian was hammered by the world number 37 Croat.
The fifth rubber was inconsequential and India will now compete in World Group I in September to get back to the Davis Cup Qualifiers.
Yet again the Indian team stumbled against a formidable side at the same stage; they lost to Serbia, Canada and Italy in the last few years.
Coming into the do-or-die match, Paes and Bopanna, with a combined age of 86, won 6-3, 6-7 (9), 7-5, after two hours and 21 minutes, against Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor, ranked 15 and 32 respectively.
The Indians missed two match-points in the second set tie-breaker but eventually held their nerves to win the decisive third set in which they fell behind after Bopanna lost his serve.
With this win, the 46-year-old Paes extended his Davis Cup record of most doubles victories to 45, and possibly played his last tie having earlier announced that 2020 is his final season.
Bopanna served big, like he always does, and also made some sharp service return winners.
Left-handed Pavic's serve was difficult to attack and India's strategy was clear that they would go after Skugor.
Paes was terrific with his returns. First, he found a volley winner and then made an un-returnable forehand shot which gave India its first break chance in the fourth game.
Bopanna converted that with a screamer as he hit a crushing single backhand service return winner. An easy hold for Bopanna put India ahead 4-1 in the opening set.
Pavic made no mistake when he returned to serve and Paes too held his own.
When Skugor served again, more pressure was there since India was already in driver's seat with a 5-2 lead. He though held with consecutive aces.
Bopanna served out the set without a fuss as Paes finished it with another volley point at the net.
Pavic's serve came under pressure at the beginning of the set with some good returns by the Indians. At 40-all, Paes made a return on the side of Skugor, who made a weak return and Bopanna smashed a volley winner to earn a break-point.
Pavic though saved that with a well-targeted second serve on the body of Bopanna, who could not clear the net. Skugor too saved a break-point in the third game but the Indians kept the pressure on the hosts.
Ankita shines with two wins as Indian Fed Cup team creates history
The Indian Fed cup team created history by earning a promotion to the Play-offs for the first time ever, with Ankita Raina leading the side to 2-1 win over Indonesia, in Dubai.
Ankita Raina pulled off a crucial singles win against talented Aldila Sutjiadi to lock the tie 1-1 after Rutuja Bhosale suffered a crushing defeat to an unranked Priska Madelyn Nugroho.
Up against the 16-year-old Indonesian, who is ranked 15th on the ITF junior circuit, Rutuja lost 3-6, 6-0, 3-6 in one hour and 43 minutes in the opening singles.
Ankita, who lost her previous two singles, demolished the challenge of talented Aldila Sutjiadi 6-3, 6-3 in the second rubber.
She then combined with seasoned Sania Mirza to beat Sutziyadi and Nugroho 7-6(4), 6-0 to seal India's place in the play-offs where they will take on either Latvia or the Netherlands in April.
They overcame a sluggish start as they were trailing 1-4 but regrouped to dominate the decisive set.
India finished second in the six-team Group with four wins in a row after losing the opening tie to China, who remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Since earning their place back in Asia/Oceania Group I in 2016, India remained in the regional group.
With the rise of Ankita Raina, things began to improve.
Rituja Bhosale also played a key role in team as she provided winning starts in a few ties, sharing the burden with Ankita.
Sania Mizra's return to Fed Cup after four years also helped, her inspirational presence and guidance proving crucial.