Monday, 19 January 2015

Railways, Andhra, emerge One Day Champions 2014-15

The 2014-15 Elite Division saw a familiar scene with Indian Railways brushing aside all opposition to once again emerge Champions of the One Day competition. Their batsmen established a fruitful relationship with concrete: the top order with the concrete like batting pitches of Rajkot, and their middle order with the concrete floors of the dressing rooms, as they were hardly required to  bat. Chief reasons, were opener Punam Raut, who  notched up scores of 100*. 71* and 98, and Mithali Raj , batting at three, who scored   47, 67 and 49 . Their form ensured that Railways shrugged off their rare loss in the group stage, and continued on their winning ways. 

Punam Raut's form ensured that Railways clinched yet another title.

The real fight, emerged for second and third places. Maharashtra, Delhi and Odisha were matched in a battle of nerves;all three of their encounters were low scoring affairs, which went down to the last over. In the end, Odisha edged past the other two, chasing on both occasions, and scraping home by three wickets against Maharashtra, and one wicket against Delhi. Delhi had to be satisfied with third, while Maharashtra finished fourth. 

The Plate division delivered the unexpected surprise of the season, with unfancied Andhra pipping an in form Goa team to the title in the Final. The only domestic team to have a foreign coach, former New Zealander Maria Fahey, Andhra finished the tournament as the only unbeaten side in both divisions. 

In their respective semi finals, Goa executed their strategy of fielding first to perfection. They allowed their pace bowling quartet, led by Shikha Pandey, to extract early movement, and skittled out Karnataka's much vaunted batting order for 93. Skipper Yetrekar and Pandey then proceeded to anchor the chase and see them home. Andhra meanwhile, made heavy weather of a small total of 120 vs Madhya Pradesh, but managed to cross the line with two wickets to spare, Sneha Dipti's unbeaten 45 seeing her team home. 

In the final, Goa's strategy of fielding first backfired as Andhra opener Monika Sai and No.3 S. Meghana stroked half centuries and set Andhra on route for a strong 189, despite Pandey's three wickets. The total proved too much as Goa failed to chase it down, ending up on 137/8 in their allotted 50 overs, to hand Andhra their first ever national level title. Both teams earned places in the Elite Division for the next season. 

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