The bullet train

Published : Jan 03, 2009 00:00 IST

The victorious Railways team.-K. RAMESH BABU
The victorious Railways team.-K. RAMESH BABU

The victorious Railways team.-K. RAMESH BABU

It was a runaway victory for the Railways in the final as the openers, Sulakshana and Jaya, made mincemeat of the Maharashtra bowling. V. V. Subrahmanyam reports.

In the second edition of the all-India inter-state women’s cricket championship (one-day) final, organised by the BCCI, what stood out was the complete dominance of the star-studded Railways, led by Mithali Raj.

Railways recorded the most emphatic victory possible — a 10-wicket verdict against Maharashtra — in the final. The fact that Mithali Raj never got a chance to bat was a tribute to the brilliant display by openers Sulakshana Naik (85 not ou t, 114 minutes, 89 balls, 13x4) and southpaw Jaya Sharma (67 not out, 114 minutes, 95 balls, 10x4), who put on 154 runs in just 30.4 overs to easily overhaul Maharashtra’s 153 for nine in 50 overs.

Combining power and placement, the openers made the bowling look very ordinary on a placid pitch prepared by curator Y. Chandrasekhar. The way both Sulakshana and Jaya came down the track frequently to hit audacious strokes was proof of their confidence as well as the lack of bite in the bowling attack.

So dominant was this combination of Sulakshana and Jaya that the organisers had to ask the chief guest of the evening, former India left-arm spinner S. L. Venkatapathi Raju, to come to the venue much before the time given to him for the valedictory function.

Maharashtra made a mess of a wonderful opportunity to bat first and finished with a modest 153 for nine in 50 overs. But for Anagha Deshpande (40, 120 balls, 134 minutes, 5x4) and Devika Palshika (50, 101 minutes, 61 balls, 3x4), who put on 53 runs for the third wicket, after Maharashtra was struggling at 37 for two in 20 overs, it would have been even more pitiable.

Once Anagha was smartly stumped off left-arm spinner Priyanka Roy, it led to a virtual collapse of the batting line-up in the face of accurate spells by spinners Priyanka Roy (two for 26) and Priti Dimri (three for 29).

Expectedly, Mithali Raj was thrilled at the comprehensive win and didn’t mind missing a chance to bat. “We always knew that we were in the game and it was only a question of completing the formality,” the victorious captain remarked. “We knew that we were peaking for the big moment and I am delighted that everything went as per the plan though I must admit we conceded about 30 extra runs due to shoddy display. But overall, it was yet another significant win which portrays Railways’ supremacy in Indian women’s cricket,” she said.

Coach Vinod Sharma was all smiles in scripting yet another triumph for his team. “The secret of our success is pretty simple. Each player enjoys not only her success but also that of others. And, personally, when the team fails, I take the blame always to keep the players’ morale high,” the experienced coach said.


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