Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Women's cricket Inter Railway : Knock out phase overview

The semi final line up of the women's cricket inter railway pitted hosts Western Railway (WR)  against North Central Railway (NCR) and South Central Railway (SCR) against Southern Railway (SR). Both encounters turned out to be low scoring, one sided affairs.

WR bowlers made life tough for the NCR batters, finally restricting them to  a painstaking 90 in 50 overs. WR opener Punam Raut stayed unbeaten to guide her team home.

Southern fared little better, being dismissed for 125. South Central made short work of that total, opener M. Shalini scoring a half century. The win set up a mouthwatering clash between holders WR and challengers SCR in the final.

Before that though, NCR and SR locked horns for third place, in a rematch of their tied league encounter. The first half proved to be an balanced contest between bat and ball, with NCR opener Chitra  Singh scoring an impressive 70 , and SR spinners Anusha and Salma picking up three wickets each. NCR finally managed 164  in their 50 overs, which proved to be enough. SR struggled to get partnerships going as the spin trio of Poonam Yadav (4 wickets), Neetu David (3 wickets) and Ekta Bisht (2 wickets) did the damage. SR were eventually bowled out for 109, handing NCR the third place honours.

Finals day dawned with SCR fielding only one pace bowler in their starting XI, Gouher Sultana coming back into the team. On a pitch that would likely take spin, WR captain Reema Malhotra had no hesitation in electing to bat. Her openers provided a sluggish but steady start, until Anagha Deshpande dragged a cut shot onto her stumps. After that, wickets falling against the run of play seemed to be the order of the day, as most WR batters got in, got set, and then got out. When Punam Raut and Veda Krishnamurthy fell in quick succession in the batting power play, WR seemed to be struggling. But Reema Malhotra (29) stuck around to give her bowlers something to defend, WR finally scoring 184.

SCR's reply began in dramatic fashion with opener Rewati being dropped at gully off seamer Snehal Pradhan's first delivery. The batter got another reprieve in the third over and seemed to be living a charmed life, as she and her partner Shalini scored steadily. Spin made its appearance as early as the ninth over, and the breakthrough came when offie Lalita Sharma had Rewati caught at slip, bringing Mithali Raj to the crease. The SCR skipper batted freely and built two solid partnerships, first with Shalini and then with Shravanti Naidu, which took SCR to within striking distance of the WR total. However, good fielding accounted for both her partners, Shalini out to a stunning catch by Pradhan, and Shravanti run out by a diving Krishnamurthy. A re-energised WR tightened the screws, and Sharma and left arm spinner Priti Dimri bowled some miserly overs. With the run rate climbing above five an over, Raj started running out of partners, as WR claimed  three more middle order wickets. Shortly after getting her half century, Raj holed out at long off off the bowling of Dimri, virtually sealing the game. SCR finally fell 10 runs short, handing a relieved WR their fourth straight championship.

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