Defending champions Railways go back-to-back as Mandhana's 84 goes in vain
Smriti Mandhana's 84 was not enough as S Meghana and D Hemalatha scored 50s for Railways © Getty Images
Defending champions Railways won the Senior T20 Trophy after defeating Maharashtra by seven wickets in the final at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat on Wednesday. Railways won all their eight matches in the tournament, winning the title for a record 10th time.
Maharashtra, who were playing an unchanged side, opted to bat first after winning the toss and their in form opening duo of Smriti Mandhana and Shivali Shinde gave them a very good start, putting on 74 in 9.1 overs before Shinde departed for 30 off 25 balls, with captain Sneh Rana providing the opening breakthrough for Railways yet again, just like she did in the semi-final.
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Mandhana continued to score freely from the other end and eventually ended with 84 off just 56 balls but Swagatika Rath ran through Maharashtra's middle order, taking the wickets of Tejal Hasabnis and Mukta Magre apart from Mandhana as Maharashtra ended with 160/4 off their allocated 20 overs.
Railways, who made two changes from their semis line up, leaving out Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Renuka Singh Thakur, needed their opening duo of S Meghana and Nuzhat Parween to repeat their heroics from the semi-final in a steep chase. Nuzhat struggled for fluency but Meghana continued from where she left off in the semis as they put on a 50-run stand yet again.
Nuzhat was then dismissed for a laboured 10 by Maya Sonawane, but that only brought Dayalan Hemalatha to the crease. Meghana and Hemalatha were Railways' two leading run-getters in this edition heading into the match and they expertly negotiated Maharashtra's spin trio of Sonawane, Devika Vaidya and Aarati S Kedar, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, as they put on 43 for the second wicket before Meghana was dismissed for 52 by Mukta Magre.
Hemalatha and K Anjali Sarvani then upped the ante by targeting Magre and Utkarsha Pawar as both of them conceded 23 runs apiece of two overs each. Sonawane then accounted for Hemalatha, who scored a well-paced 65 in just 41 balls. There were no further hiccups for Railways as Sarvani finished the match with a six off Sonawane, who was Maharashtra's best bowler on the day. The loss means that Maharashtra are yet to win their first title at the tournament, having finished second best on multiple occasions in the past as well.
Brief Scores: Maharashtra 160/4 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 84, Swagatika Rath 3/33) lost to Railways 165/3 in 18.1 overs (Dayalan Hemalatha 65, S Meghana 52; Maya Sonawane 2/22) by seven wickets.