Papua New Guinea has taken over as the new favourite to top Group A and qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2016 following victory against Nepal and a shock defeat for Ireland on what was an entertaining day of Twenty20 action in Malahide.
After a brief moment of concern in the morning when Nepal raced to almost 50 off the first seven overs, PNG regrouped and delivered a disciplined bowling and fielding performance, dismissing the final Nepal batsman before the completion of the 20th over with the score on 93. John Reva, Mahuru Dai and Assad Va’a did the damage with the ball.
Despite losing Lega Siaka early in the run-chase, the result was never really in question as Tony Ura and then man of the match Va’a and Kila Pala got the job done with eight wickets and nearly six overs to spare.
The PNG Barramundi bowlers put on another dominant performance with their pace bowlers and were superbly supported by the spin bowlers to set the victory up for Barramundis. Captain Jack Vare astutely used his bowling attack with his bowling options as the pace bowlers and the spin bowlers combined well to restrict runs and take regular wickets to bowled Nepal out for 93 in 19.4 overs.
The runs chase faced little problems even after both openers got out which left PNG on 2/53 but still in a strong position. Assad Va’a (34) and Kila Pala (22) paired up for a 3rd wicket partnership of 41 runs to seal the victory for the PNG Barramundis. PNG comfortably reached Nepal’s target of 93 in 14.1 overs as Assad Va’a smashed a six for the win.
Assad Va’a was named man of the match for his outstanding all-round performance with bowling figures of 2 for 7 of 2.4 over and an unbeaten 34 runs in the batting.
Captain Jack Vare-Kevere commented that the boys will be taking every game as they come. “We want to continue improving from game to game and there were a lot of positives but also some things we will look to improve from this match.” added Vare-Kevere.
PNG Barramundis Head Coach Dipak Patel has been pleased and impressed with his side’s performance so far in the tournament but is anxious not to allow his players to get ahead of themselves.
“We’re very happy to take every game as it comes – and it’s easier said than done – but this is a new area that these guys are going into now. They’ve never been in this position. It’s our job to make sure they keep their feet on the ground. We have a plan for our next game and that will be the key,” said Patel
“But that said, this was a very mature, assured performance by a relatively inexperienced international side and shows the growth in confidence on show as the tournament progresses.
“This is the sort of performance we have been threatening and to polish it off at the end was great,” said Patel.
“There has been a fair bit of doubt about us among the other teams but we always had faith that we could and I think we displayed it today. It shows the character that we have and that we can come back. The first few overs we didn’t bowl to our plans but we readjusted and that’s the most pleasing part for me.”
One of the first things the casual observer notices about the PNG players is their excellent fielding. Clearly, it’s something the PNG management had previously highlighted as an area they could gain an advantage.
“It was our goal beforehand that we wanted to be the best fielding side in the tournament. We have always been capable of doing it but we have never done it consistently. To date, we’ve been traveling very well – our outfielding has been very good. We could improve some of our catching but overall I’m very pleased with that aspect of our play.”
“The boys have displayed some outstanding performance in their bowling, batting and fielding. However, we are focusing on what is ahead of us and not going to look back and ride on the wins we have had so far. We will look to improve from game to game and it will be vital to work hard on what we’ve being doing well by doing the basics right and letting results take care of themselves,” Patel concluded.
Meanwhile, Ireland (8/124) experienced another loss to Hong Kong as they fell short by five runs to Hong Kong’s target of 129. This result puts PNG comfortably on first place in Pool A with two matches remaining against Namibia and USA.
The only unbeaten side left in the tournament, PNG must feel that with two group matches remaining, it is within touching distance of a historic first appearance at a major ICC tournament.
The PNG Barramundis will face Namibia at 11:15 PM tonight PNG time.
At Malahide: Nepal 93 (19.4) Pradeep Airee 29, Assad Va’a 2-7, John Reva 2-11, Mahuru Dai 2-13) defeated by PNG 2/99 (14.1)Assad Va’a 34*, Tony Ura 3 by 8 wickets
Saturday 18 July – PNG v Namibia, Malahide, Dublin (1115-0225*)
(*PNG local time)
Source: Cricket PNG