The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014
By PETER PUSAL
LOSING their first two matches of the Super Sixes has Papua New Guinea in a precarious position at the One-Day Cricket World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand.
The Barramundis still have a mathematical chance of making the final when they take on Hong Kong today in the third and final match of the playoffs.
Victory at the Burt Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln will not give the Hebousponsored side automatic passage into the final.
For that to happen the Barras need to beat Hong Kong handsomely and hope either the United Arab Emirates, who lead the stage, or Scotland, who are second, lose badly in their games to Namibia and Kenya.
On form, the Super Sixes’ top two sides are more than likely to be the teams that go on to qualify for next year’s ODI World Cup but as Kenya showed in the group stage when they beat the Netherlands to sneak into the playoffs, anything is possible.
Heading into the today’s matches, if results go PNG’s way and they draw level on six points with the UAE or Scotland, the net run rate will be the factor that decides who makes the final.
Tournament rules stipulate that if sides finish on the same points, the by the net run rate will be the first point of call followed by the number of wins through out the World Cup qualifiers.
The UAE (+0.742) and Scotland (+0.612) both on six points have a healthy lead over PNG (-0.253) who are floundering on four points.
PNG has three wins and three loses while the UAE and Scotland each have 5-1 records.
Batting and chasing targets has not been a strong suit over the last two matches but that will be the key for PNG.
The Barramundis beat Hong Kong by 42 runs in a warm-up match before the qualifiers started.
In a low scoring affair PNG were able to defend 205 thanks chiefly to paceman Raymond Haoda Jr who bagged a five-for, but since then Hong Kong, ranked 20 by the ICC, have won four and lost two.
Hong Kong have a win over Scotland in the group stage and finished second in Group A behind Scotland.
Like PNG, Hong Kong are also on four points but have a better net run rate (+0.312) and a win for them could also see them make the final two.
Opener Vani Vagi Morea, who replaced Jason Kila in the last match hit a half-century but it is his teammates particularly Assad Vala, Geraint Jones and Lega Siaka who need to take control at the crease and ensure PNG either posts a good total or runs down a target.
Barramundis: Lega Siaka, Vani Vagi Morea, Assad Vala, Geraint Jones, Chris Amini (c), Mahuru Dai, Jack Vare (vc/wk), Charles Amini Jr, Pipi Raho, Willie Gavera, Norman Vanua, Raymond Haoda Jr, Chris Kent (12th man).