Railways thump Bengal to return to championship-winning ways

Women's CricZone Staff
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Bengal, Railways maintain unbeaten run on their way to the knockouts

Indian Railways T20 team. © Asha Joy

The toss was the only thing that really went in Bengal’s favour through the day. Having elected to bat, they got off to the worst possible start, losing Mita Paul in only the fifth over. Ekta Bisht got the right-hander to top edge a slog sweep that was well caught by a diving Shubhlakshmi Sharma on the mid-wicket boundary. The spin trio of Bisht, Swagatika Rath and Rajeshwari Gayakwad continued to put pressure on the batters, bowling tight lines, to their field and refusing to serve up too many freebies. As the pressure piled on, Bengal’s top order perished in search of boundaries, collapsing to 38 for 3 in 9.1 overs.

It was then that Rumeli Dhar and Richa Ghosh— two generations of Bengal cricketers— joined forces to get the innings back on track. While Dhar, a veteran of 100 internationals, simply knocked the ball around and looked to bat deep, young Ghosh, all of 16, took on the bowlers, tonking two massive sixes on her way to a 21-ball 24. Her lofted drive over the head of Kavita Patil, the medium pacer, was easily the shot of the day— a shimmy down the track, free swing of the bat, high follow through and the ball went sailing over the bowler’s head to land just short of the side screen.

However, just when it looked like Bengal had gained some momentum in their innings, Ghosh fell prey to the experienced Bisht. Looking for another six, the right-hander advanced down the track early, only for Bisht to pull back her length ever so slightly which meant all Ghosh could do, was sky it straight up for Sneh Rana to complete an easy catch in the deep.

With overs fast running out, Dhar took charge. The veteran used all her experience, reading the bowlers and the field beautifully to collect four boundaries and a six in her knock of 48 off 41 balls. Dhar’s contribution helped Bengal reach a competitive 121 for 6 in their 20 overs. They had collected close to 80 runs in the final 10 overs thanks largely to the 39-run stand between Dhar and Ghosh.

Having made an important contribution with the bat, Dhar took the new ball with her tail up, knowing only early wickets would give Bengal a chance at victory. In her very first over, she got the in-form Nuzhat Parween to edge a slightly short of length delivery. However, Aparna Mondal, the wicket-keeper— standing up to the stumps— was unable to cling on to the catch.

That was the only chance Railways would offer for a large part of the next 10 overs as Parween and Raut quietly accumulated runs, rotating the strike and patiently waiting for the loose balls on offer. Like old pros, they played out Bengal’s best and most senior bowlers— Dhar and Gouher Sultana— cashing in on the rest.

Although Parween was unable to get away, her 35-ball 25 meant Railways had laid the foundation for an important win. When the wicket-keeper fell to Sharyosi Aich she had put together a 63-run stand for the first wicket alongside Raut.

For the batters who followed, the task was simple— swing and get ahead of the run rate. Sneh Rana, captain of Railways up until the final, followed those instructions to a ’T’. She picked the gaps straight away, read the play early and raced to 36 off just 26 balls, including four fours and a six, before she was run out by Sultana. By then it looked like Bengal had completely wilted— their fielding in shambles and bowling uncharacteristically indisciplined.

With only nine to get when she walked in, Rath lended the finishing touches to the chase, smashing 11 off just four deliveries. Her knock included a mighty six over mid-wicket that sealed the game for Railways with 11 balls to spare, and ended their two year (T20) trophy-drought.


Breif Scores: Bengal 121/6 in 20 overs (Rumeli Dhar 48, Richa Ghosh 24; Ekta Bisht 2-14, Swagatika Rath 2-24) lost to Railways 123/2 in 18.1 overs (Punam Raut 46*, Sneh Rana 36) by eight wickets.