Vala props up innings


PAPUA New Guinea captain Assad Vala’s unbeaten 136 at stumps on the opening day of the Intercontinental Cup match against Namibia ensured the home side are in position to put on a first innings total of more than 300 when play resumes this morning at Amini Park.
Finishing on 294/9 at the close of play, the Hebou-sponsored Barramundis were in trouble at 35-2 by the 13th over when Vala stepped to the crease.
The 29-year-old, who was elevated to the captaincy last month in the absence of regular skipper and wicketkeeper Jack Vare, continued his great form with the bat having shone on the recent tour of Australia where he averaged in the mid-50s over the 50-over and two-day formats.
PNG limped to 68/3 at lunch, with Vala (13*) and Sese Bau (7*) at the crease – not the way the home side would have wanted their innings to go after winning the toss and electing to bat.
The Amini Park pitch took some turn as Namibia’s orthodox spinner Bernard Scholtz plied his craft a little earlier than expected.
But the tactic worked wonders for Sarel Burger’s side with Barramundis opener Tony Ura beaten by flight and having his bails removed by keeper Zane Green in the 22nd over.
Whether it was a case of the Barras being unfamiliar with left arm spin coupled with a lack of patience or Scholtz’ guile and Burger’s astute field placements, the 26-year-old tweaker ended the day with five wickets for 99 off 28 overs. Paceman Stephan Baard, who picked up 2-23, was also a handful for the Barramundis.
With PNG’s middle order wilting under Scholtz’ examiniation, Vala kept his composure to score at a good clip – a 66 percent strike rate – with his 136 coming off 206 balls and including 11 boundaries and a six.
Vala was given good support by Mahuru Dai (24) and John Boge Reva (45); the all-rounders managing to build handy partnerships – of 60 and 95 runs respectively – with Vala throughout the course of the day.
The Hood Lagoon man saw off the last three overs of play with No.11 Willie Gavera, who was on five runs.
The pair would be hoping to get PNG well past 300 in the first session of day two this morning.
Match Summary: 1st Innings – PNG 294/9 (Assad Vala 136*, John Boge Reva 45, Tony Ura 28; Bernard Scholtz 5-99, Stephan Baard 2-23.

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