India’s Fed Cup coach Ankita Bhambri reckons a good serve will be the key on indoor courts when Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi take on higher-ranked players in the Fed Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan.

India will begin their campaign at the Asia/Oceania Group I against Thailand on Thursday before clashing with formidable hosts Kazakhstan on Friday.

Getting past Thailand is not expected to be too hard for India with Raina and fast-improving Thandi in good form. Thailand’s best-ranked singles player is Peangtarn Plipuech, who is placed at 297 while Punnin Kovapitukted is way lower at number 657.

However, Kazakhstan’s world No 43 Yulia Putintseva and world No 96 Zarina Diyas would be the tough obstacles for India, if they are to top Pool A.

The winners of Pool A and B, which has four teams, will clash to determine which nation qualifies for the World Group II.

“To be very honest, the girls are improving every year. Karman is stronger and fitter while Ankita is also strong and has more experience. They need to put it together,” Bhambri told PTI.

The matches will be played indoors due to the sub-zero temperature in the city.

“It is important to serve well [indoor] and reach out to the ball faster. If you start a point well, the chances of ending it well also get better,” Bhambri said.

“It’s always tough to play top-100 players. Ankita had played the match of her life against Yulia last year. That experience should help her,” she added.

Pool B features China, who have world number 40 Shuai Zhang and world number 42 Saisai Zheng, along with Korea, Indonesia, and Pacific Oceania. In all likelihood, China will top Pool B and it will be between India and Kazakhstan in Pool A.

“The plan and determination is the same. I have always played my best tennis when playing for the country and hope to do the same,” said 25-year-old Raina, who is at a career-best rank of 165.

“I am not looking at the rankings and focusing on myself and the game I want to execute. Also, I am analysing the opponents’ game,” she added. Talking about conditions and courts, Raina said, “I am able to adapt much better since I have been here three times before.”

Thandi, 20, said she is feeling confident about her game. “Going into the Fed Cup this year, definitely I have improved. I have beaten many girls in top-200 and with top-100 players. I have learnt a lot and hope to get some wins for India,” she said.

With inputs from PTI