PNG retain title at ICC EAP tournament

Friday, February 08, 2013

Papua New Guinea remained undefeated for the tournament with their win in the final

Papua New Guinea's dominance at the 2013 Pepsi ICC East Asia-Pacific Men's Championship was deservedly rewarded, and their status as regional powerhouse confirmed with a hard fought 38-run win over Vanuatu in the Final on Thursday afternoon on Waikaraka Park 1.

After batting without hesitation upon winning the toss, PNG were kept quiet in a tidy first over from Patrick Matautaava before Niko Unavalu provided the first breakthrough when Tony Ura caught behind for one.

This brought the precocious Charles Amini to the wicket, which relegated the usual pace-setter Assadollah Vala to second fiddle with an array of glorious strokes. A lofted drive over the head of mid-off, which initially appeared to place staff in the tournament and media centre in the line of fire, kick started Amini's fluent display.

The younger Amini was not afraid of taking the aerial route, lofting a six over long-on before slugging two over the deep midwicket boundary. He eventually departed to a mistimed a cut which he spooned to Simpson Obed at backward point off the bowling of Jelany Chilia. Amini finished with 51 from 30 deliveries.

Vala departed soon after for a subdued 38 as the Barramundis lost three wickets for three runs in the space of seven balls. Mahuru Dai (2) and Jack Vare-Kavere (golden duck) giving Vanuatu keeper Trevor Langa his second and third catches respectively as PNG slumped to 123-5.

Chris Kent also struggled to force the pace as Vanuatu left no stone unturned in their bowling and fielding effort, the pressure getting to Kent (29) who was undone by a scorching yorker from Matautaava – the wicket celebrated with an exuberant back-flip.

Chris Amini and Sese Bau struggled to find the boundary in the last two overs, but alert running and sharp conversion of opportunities to turn singles into twos lifted PNG to a defendable 159-6 in a creditable effort from the Vanuatu attack.

PNG missed an opportunity to damage Vanuatu's approach to the chase early when Jonathon Dunn was dropped by the skipper Chris Amini at first slip in the opening over off the bowling of Willie Gavera.

Trevor Langa was in aggressive mode and exhibited little sign of laying the foundation, opting to go hard at the PNG attack.

Langa used an array of strokes that had PNG on the back foot until his luck eventually ran out when he top-edged a hook straight into the hands of Chris Kent at fine leg.

Matautaava came in and slammed Norman Vanua for a six over extra cover and a four through fine leg before spooning the same bowler towards Vala at point.

With tensions high and the umpires intervening to calm a few testy exchanges, Vanuatu skipper Andrew Mansale consolidated in concert with Dunn, but the decision to introduce Pipi Raho into the attack worked wonders for PNG.

He first clean bowled Dunn and then forced Mansale to injudiciously sky a drive high towards the edge of the circle at mid-off, where Chris Kent took the catch running in from the deep.

Wolford Kalworai added 36 for the 6th wicket with Nalin Nipiko to leave Vanuatu needing 69 from the final five overs, but the rapidly rising run rate left their lower and middle order with too much to do as Vanua and Raho each bagged three wickets.

The Barramundis finally sealed victory in the penultimate over when Kenny Tari skied Vanua to mid-off as a brave Vanuatu had their challenge ended with their score at 121.

"It was a great performance for the boys and just reward for all the hard work and sacrifices we have made over the last 12 months," said PNG captain Chris Amini. "All teams really stepped up to the plate to play against us and we had no easy matches so it was great to come away with a win."

Papua New Guinea now advances to the World Twenty20 Qualifier to be held later this year in Dubai. The top six teams from the 16 team Qualifier will proceed through to the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

Final - Papua New Guinea v Vanuatu, Waikaraka Park 1

Papua New Guinea 159-6 (Charles Amini 51, A Vala 38, C Kent 29; K Tari 2-26) defeated Vanuatu 121 (W Kalworai 38; N Vanua 3-19, P Raho 3-29) by 38 runs.

Man of the Match: Charles Amini (Papua New Guinea)

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