Western Railways showed their mettle in the rain-affected final to win the inaugural edition of Women’s Pro Cricket League in city yesterday. Anita Lodhi, who plays for Assam in the domestic circuit, led the way with a 37-ball 34 as Western Railways posted 108 for 8 in 20 overs. Swagatika Rath’s 38-ball 40 helped South Central Railways start their chase on a strong note, but three run outs and two major rain breaks broke their momentum.
Western Railways made their intention clear right from the start as Sulakshana Naik, the captain, and Anagha Deshpande started strongly with contributions of 18 and 25 respectively. Deshpande finished as the tournament’s second-highest run-getter with a tally of 90 behind Hemalatha’s 100 for Royal Phoenix Bangalore.
After Rath dismissed Naik in the fourth over, Lodhi opened her account with two consecutive boundaries in the same over to keep the scoreboard ticking. Lodhi and Deshpande then focussed on rotating the strike, as no more boundaries were hit till the 14th over when Lodhi broke the shackles with two fours off Shravanti Naidu. Gouher Sultana dismissed the duo in the 15th over and Reema Malhotra was run out in the next over as South Central regained control. Sultana, who has played in two World Cups, dismissed Pushpa Kiseur and Anuja Patil to finish with 4 for 20, and V.M. Kavya took two wickets in the final over, but Western Railway found a way to put up an eventual match-winning total.
Rath went on the aggressive as she hit two fours in the first over of the chase by Kavita Patil. She hit six fours in the power play overs as Shani, her opening partner, was happy to play second fiddle. The game changed in the 8th over when Shani and Mamtha were run out off successive balls. Rath hit a 6 in that over off Lodhi to negate the damage, but became the third batter in the innings to be run out, in the 11th over.
Rain stopped play with South Central needing 38 off 34 balls with seven wickets in hand. There was an element of urgency in both the camps when play resumed and the score moved to 93 for 6 in 17.1 overs when the second rain break arrived. Sudha Rani tried hard to take the game away from Western in the final stages, but it was not to be South Central’s day.
Western Railway took home as cash prize of Rs. 50,000 while South Central had to be content with Rs. 25, 000.