The league stages of the women's cricket inter railway tournament did throw up a few surprises, with last year's runner-up Northern Railway (NR) being eliminated, losing two of their three games. The squad, strengthened this year by the return of Rumeli Dhar and Jaya Sharma, would have expected a better showing but were beaten by Eastern Railway (ER) and Southern Railway (SR). They managed a consolation win against North Central Railway (NCR) though. Neha Tanwar (74*) and Amita Sharma (65*)batted out of their skins to rescue their side from a shaky 30 for 5, to eventually chase NCR's total of 193.
The league match between SR and NCR also provided ample excitement. After bowling NCR out for , Southern crumbled under the pressure of some accurate spin bowling and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. With things looking bleak, Salma Banu, coming in at number nine, looked to be steering her side to an unlikely win with a calm 20*. With one to win off five balls and one wicket in hand, her partner spooned a simple catch to square leg and handed NCR a tie.
The tie meant Eastern Railway had an outside chance of qualifying for the semi finals. Despite good performances by seamer Shubhlaxmi Sharma (six wickets in three matches) and Priyanka Roy (one half century), they were eventually pushed out on net run rate. NCR and SR qualified for the knockout rounds, with SR topping the group.
In the other pool, holders and hosts Western Railway (WR) dominated both their encounters. They stumbled in their batting against an inexperienced Central Railway (CR) team, courtesy CR captain Nidhi Buley's four wicket haul, but their bowling attack never let the CR batters get going. They eventually won by 76 runs. Against a South Central (SCR) team that rested Mithali Raj and Gouher Sultana, WR seamers Snehal Pradhan and Kavita Patil delivered telling blows on a wicket that offered some assistance, snaring the top four batters in their opening spells. They reaped the benefits of bowling within the stumps; all four wickets were either bowled or LBW. SCR folded for 120 allowing WR an easy win.
WR will now host NCR while SCR take on SR in the semi finals.