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Chargers win game two of the 3rd Pacific Coast Women's Cricket Tourney to level series
12 September 2010
After watching the second match of the 3rd Pacific Coast Invitational Women Cricket Tournament played between Firebirds (BACA) and Chargers (NWCL), it reminded me of the following two sayings:
  1. A Thousand Mile Journey starts with first step taken; and
  2. Do not accept any work unless you are sure of it; however do not give it up just because someone else is not sure of you.
When Raj Padhi took a bold step to work for the development of women cricket in the United States, he knew that it would be a long haul and many obstacles would be on his way. Nevertheless, he was sure of himself and his coaching abilities to show wonders. Anyone who watched yesterday’s match could easily conclude that above mentioned two sayings apply to Raj Padhi in toto.
Raj's sheer confidence in himself to create extra ordinary success out of ordinary lives is reflected through his actions when he assumed the role of coach to groom females willing to learn the game. And Raj has taken another big step by setting up an academy for coaching US women cricketers. The abilities shown by the girls to learn this game quickly provides ample glimpses to convince us that it is only a matter of time when players under Raj’s guidance will take the game to next level in the country. It will be no surprise to see USACA consider women's cricket on the same podium with the men’s game in the near future.
Now on to the match. After winning the toss for the second time in a row, Firebirds captain Ritu Bhargava opted to bat first.  However, her decision seemed to have backfired in the very first over when she was adjudged LBW. She was not happy with the decision as the ball seemed to be drifting down the leg side.  But she had to make her long walk back to the hut.
Thereafter, Erica came to join the in form player Sanuja. Both were middling the ball well and got the game under full control. They hit some stunning shots. Erica in particular looked to be in fine touch and hit a couple of boundaries. Sanuja also joined the party soon by hitting a glorious mid wicket boundary. The run feast was on and it seemed to be that it would be a long tiring day for Chargers in the middle of the ground.
However, when the match just seemed to be sliding away from Chargers grip, they got a much needed breakthrough by getting Erica run out. Before going back in the hut, Erica made 18 vital runs with the help of two hits to the fence. Fall of Erica’s wicket turned out to be a turning point for Chargers as wickets started tumbling from one end. Though Sanuja was standing rock solid and tried her level best to steer the ship, her single handed efforts went in vain as she ran out of partners. Finally, she remained unbeaten on 31 and the innings of Firebirds was folded up on 74 in 14 overs.
The high of Sanuja’s inning was the change of gear; when she was running short of partners. That’s what impressed me a lot personally. The way she handled last couple of overs of Firebirds innings, demonstrated her tremendous courage, confidence in herself and her sense of responsibility. Her earlier role of sheet anchor like Rahul Dravid seemed to have taken a 360 degree turn as she went bonkers! Realizing that it was the last wicket partnership, Sanuja was not afraid to go over the top. She controlled the inning and tried to keep the last batter, Chanel, away from the strike. However, a cheeky single on the last ball of the over saw Chanel falling short of her crease leaving Sanuja stranded at one end. 
From Chargers side, Captain Yogita Manghnani took two wickets and was involved in two run outs. Jenny, Meghna and Sangita chipped in with one wicket each.
Now, it was up to the bowlers of Firebirds to turn tables. The only way for bouncing back in the match for Firebirds was to make early inroads and shatter the top order of Chargers. However, this was not their day. Inspite of superb fast bowling by Sanuja, they were not able to get any breakthrough. Thanks to some sensible batting by skipper Yogita Manghnani. Her opening partner Rekha also matched her stroke by stroke. Both of them displayed some superb shots hitting two boundaries each.
Firebird’s captain Ritu Bhargava tried her all available options. Unfortunately nothing clicked. When Erica’s direct throw disturbed the furniture and Rekha was caught a little shy of her crease, it was too little and too late for Firebirds. The Chargers duo had already accumulated 61 runs by then. Thereafter, it was a matter of time only as inevitable could not be averted by Firebirds unless someone had stepped into Lasith Malinga’s shoes to capture 4 wickets in 4 balls.
Chargers registered their win in 14.1 overs when Yogita hit a glorious hit to the fence. That completed their all round performance in style.  With this win, Chargers bounced back to draw level in the series with one win each.
Yogita stole the show today due to her excellent unbeaten knock which fetched her Player of the Match award. But the clinical batting of Sanuja followed by her accurate pace bowling and outstanding fielding could not be ignored and overlooked by judges. Due to her consistent performance in both the matches, she was unanimously chosen and awarded with the Player of the Tournament award. 
By Rakesh Jain