Railways mounted a spectacular defence of both its men’s and women’s titles as the 60th Senior National kabaddi championships (Super League), for the Ambi Gold Cup, concluded here on Sunday.

Led by the India internationals Rakesh Kumar and Manjeet Chillar, Railways annihilated Services 40-19 in the men’s final to complete a hat-trick of championships, just after the women had secured their trophy in vastly contrasting fashion. 

Railways chugged ahead early on in a lopsided men’s final — the highlight of the first period a dramatic raid by Rakesh, which ended with the player hauling two Services catchers back across the halfway line.

Raiders Suraj Desai and Surjeet Singh had performed admirably for Services in previous fixtures, but were rendered ineffective by some fine defending here. Railways managed raid after raid — including a lona — with impunity, leading 23-7 at the break. Mandya’s own Venkatesh pulling off a couple of raids, much to the delight of the assembled 15,000. Railways finished 21 points ahead eventually.

Earlier, in a desperately close women’s final, Railways edged a spirited Maharashtra side 20-19 to claim a remarkable 30th straight title. 

The teams matched each other punch for punch for most of the match, Railways powered forward by captain and local lass Tejaswini Bai, and Maharashtra by raider-of-the-tournament Deepika Desai.

The latter’s efforts had handed her side a slender 12-11 lead at the break, but Railways drew level immediately on resumption. The contest turned when Desai was caught on a raid with her side 18-19 down; Railways hung on thereafter, taking the match and, with it, the title. 

The results: Men: Final: Railways bt Services 40-19. Semifinals: Railways bt Rajasthan 19-13; Services bt UP 25-21. Best raider: Rakesh Kumar (Rly); Best catcher: Satish (Ser); Best all-rounder: Manjeet Chillar (Rly). 

Women: Final: Railways bt Maharashtra 20-19. Semifinals: Railways bt HP 36-23; Maharashtra bt Haryana 37-21. Best raider: Deepika Desai (Mah); Best catcher: Snehal Solanki (Mah); Best all-rounder: Tejaswini Bai (Rly).

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