Champions of the 2018-19 season were resisted by the Railways in the semi-finals last year. It seems the Bengal Women’s team has come prepared this season to lift the trophy. Now, with a 5 on 5 start to the season, they look to be the favourites to clinch the BCCI Senior Women’s ODI trophy 2021.
Since the last few years, Bengal has been one of the toughest teams to beat. With a mixture of youth and experience, they seem to be a dominant force in women’s cricket in India. Perhaps, the inclusion of a few outstation players like Vanita VR and Gouher Sultana has helped them a lot.
However, this year it’s the young guns who are catching the eyes of every women’s cricket follower. Be it an outstanding opener like Dhara Gujjar or wicket-keeper Parna Paul, newcomers have been up to the mark this season.
It’s quite obvious in the scoreboard that even the absence of stalwart Jhulan Goswami has not affected them. The leading wicket-taker in women’s cricket has been down with an injury after the first match.
Rumeli Dhar, another senior cricketer was given the responsibility of leading the team post the first match.
Bengal vs Rajasthan
After choosing to bowl first post toss, captain Jhulan led the way for women in yellow and blue. Along with her, Gouher Sultana and Rukmoni Roy contributed with two wickets apiece. Rajasthan posted a formidable 206 on the board.
However, it was Dhara Gujjar’s brilliant unbeaten 92 and Parna Paul’s 54 that saw them home with 8 balls left.
Rajasthan 206/8 ( Jasia Akhter, 106 ), Bengal 207/7 ( Dhara Gujjar, 92 )
Bengal vs Andhra
In a rain-affected match, Bengal proved to be too strong for girls from Andhra Pradesh. Rumeli Dhar, newly appointed captain of Bengal won the toss and choose to field first. Rumeli’s 20 for 2 and Mita Paul’s 25 for 2 helped Bengal restrict Andhra for 164/8 in the full quota of overs.
Dhara Gujjar kept her form as she scored another swift 49. However, it was Vanitha VR who stole the show with a quickfire 61 off 62 balls. Bengal won by 7 wickets in the VJD method.
Andhra – 164/8 ( Jhansi Laxmi, 67), Bengal- 158/3 (Vanitha VR, 61)
Bengal vs Himachal
This time the toss luck was not with Bengal. They were put in to bat first by Himachal. Dhara Gujjar saw that as an opportunity as she scored a stunning 115 off 148 balls. Captain Rumeli added 65, Mita Paul chipped in with a steady 32. Bengal finished 272/6 after 50 overs. Harleen Deol took 3 for 66 for Himachal.
In reply, Himachal could not resist the Bengal bowling attack. Rumeli Dhar knocked them out a bowling figure of 4-4-3. She even pulled up a hat-trick as well. Saika Ishaque took 3 for 8.
Bengal – 272/6 (Dhara Gujjar, 115), Himachal – 72 ( Rumeli Dhar, 4-4-3)
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Bengal vs Punjab
In a low scoring encounter, Punjab won the toss and chose to field first. Vanitha got out for 33 and then Bengal batting collapsed like a house of cards. Gouher Sultana’s valiant 32 at number 8 helped them reach 125. Mehak Kesar took 4 wickets for Punjab.
However, with Bengal’s bowling, it wasn’t meant to be that easy for the girls from Punjab. Gouher Sultana’s two wickets and Sukanya Parida’s 4 for 22 helped Bengal win a close encounter. They bundled out Punjab for 121.
Bengal – 125 ( Mehak Kesar 9.3-19-4 ), Punjab – 121 ( Gouher Sultana, 10-8-2 )
Hyderabad vs Bengal
Bengal team travelled to Bangalore for their clash against Hyderabad. Though it was an away fixture for them, it felt home for Vanitha VR who is from Karnataka. Vanitha struck a squash buckling 107 from just 71 balls. Rumeli Dhar also came to the party as she scored a stunning 104 from 112 balls. Bengal scored a huge 322/5 in 50 overs.
Coming to bat, Hyderabad could not find any mojo. Though they did not lose many wickets but only managed to score 147 from their full quota of overs.
Bengal – 322/5 ( Vanitha VR, 107 ), Hyderabad – 147/3 ( Sukanya Parida, 10-24-2 )
With full 20 points from 5 matches and a Net run rate of +1.804, Bengal tops Group C. They move to the quarter-finals of the BCCI Senior Women’s ODI Trophy.