The National- Tuesday, January 25, 2011
THE PNG Barramundis must prove to the international cricket community that they are not shrinking violets when they take on a formidable US side today in Hong Kong in day-three of matches at the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3 one-day tournament.
The Barramundis are so far undefeated at the tournament thanks to their ability to compete as a team – more so as a competent bowling and fielding unit and less as a batting group.
But this has been sufficient in wins over Oman (Saturday) and Italy (Sunday) where PNG were able to post modest totals and defend themwell.
With the highest score of 77 from middle order dasher Kila Pala followed by 68 from teenager Chris Kent and 46 from all-rounder Jason Kila, PNG have dodged the bullet in their first two matches but must score runs in their remaining four matches to consider themselves worthy of improving their world ranking.
The Americans got their tournamet off to a flying start on Saturday crushing hosts Hong Kong (256 all out) by seven wickets where they quite easily reached the target of 257 for the loss of only three wickets.
US opener Carl Wright (82) and captain Steve Massiah (97 no) did what was expected along with a finishing effort from No. 4 Sushi Nadkarni (38) and proved their top order batting was up to standard.
Even in their loss to Denmark in their next match the US top order still looked dangerous especially Jamaican-born opener Wright who cracked a 51-ball 43 which included two sixes and four boundaries.
The same cannot be said for PNG’s top four batsmen though.
The pressure will be on excitment machines Assad Vala, Tony Ura, Mahuru Dai and vice-captain Chris Amini to score the bulk of the Barramundis’ runs.
They have not done this in the first two hit outs.
The capable lower order batting of Pala, Kila and wicketkeeper Jack Vare may not always bail the Barras out of trouble.
Although PNG coach Andy Bichel praised Kila’s feats with the bat and ball in the match against Italy he knows the top order has to perform.
PNG’s batsmen can produce the fireworks required to blast them into the next tier of world cricket but must first find the form and mental fortitude to unleash their array of strokes.
In captain and all-rounder Rarua Dikana, they have the best role model to inspire them.
Whether taking crucial wickets as first change or buttressing the lower order Dikana is the “Mr Fix It” and leader of the pack but he will need to coax the best out of the big hitting trio of Dai, Vala and Ura if PNG are to finish in the top two of this tournament.
In the other day-three matches today Oman take on Italy and Hong Kong play Denmark.
PNG currently lead the tournament on 4 points followed by Denmark, Italy, USA, Oman and Hong Kong in that order, all on 2 points.