Railway women assert their supremacy

HYDERABAD, MAY 20. Defending champions Indian Railways women kept their reputation in tact to outplay a disjointed Maharashtra 62- 15 in the final of the 21st Federation Cup kabaddi championship, sponsored by Bhandari Srinivas Education Trust, at Rajalingaiah Stadium (Karwan) here on Sunday night.

In a final delayed by more than two hours due to mindless organisation as the play-off matches were scheduled for late in the evening instead of in the morning session itself, Railways virtually gave no chance for the rivals to be in the contest at any stage. Captain Arjuna Awardee Neeta Dhadwe's presence seemed to have had a major impact on the hapless Maharashtra defence.

For, there was only once that the catchers Meghali and Archana Shinde were successful in pinning down her. Otherwise, they just kept themselves out of harms way giving plenty of liberty for the stalwart to pick points at will. That she scored 18 points including a bonus was a fair indication of her total domination. Not to be outdone were the other raiders R. Gautami and H. Kaur who sustained the pressure.

The very fact that Railways led by a huge margin of 37-9 at the break was a clear hint that the contest was going to be a largely one-sided affair. That Maharashtra catchers pinned down the rivals only twice in the entire match was a disappointing story of their ability to attack with the required coordination. They seemed to be in a defensive shell and once even had the ignominy of seeing two of their players `cross the line' to concede two points with Neetha as raider.

Predictably, the Maharashtra raiders had very little to do but to just visit and either return empty-handed or get pinned down. Captain K. Veena had the most successful raid of three points once and Archana Shinde two. Otherwise there was nothing much to write about their plight as Railway catchers H. Kaur Gautami and Sumati Pujari rarely let them return home.

Maharashtra had two bonus points but more importantly Railways collected four lonas. It was a ridiculous way of organising such a prestigious event. For the play-off matches started at 6.30 p.m. and the women's final two hours behind schedule, all just to be in the good books of the VIPs.

The men's final was yet to start at the time of reporting this match. It was strange to see referee Govindraju insisting for photographs with the VIPs during the break thereby delaying it further. And even worse was the felicitation function of various officials which lasted 20 minutes during the break.

lEarlier results:

Women's semifinal: Railways bt Karnataka 54-23.

League: Men: Services bt Railways 40-18; Rajasthan bt Railways 31-23; Bank Sports Board bt Haryana 33-18; Tamil Nadu bt Delhi 52-27; Services bt Rajasthan 41-17; Bank Sports Board bt Delhi 25-23.

Women: Railways bt Tamil Nadu 72-12; Manipur bt Vidarbha 40-19; Maharashtra bt Punjab 44-20; Haryana bt Punjab 48-28; Railways bt Manipur 50-15; Karnataka bt Hyderabad 63-40; Maharashtra bt Haryana 57-30.