A SPECTACULAR 80 runs off just 32 balls, including eight sixes and five fours by debutant PNG Barramundis batsman Jeremiah Nigani, set up a big victory for PNG over Fiji at the International Cricket Council’s East Asia Pacific Twenty20 final in Apia, Samoa last Friday.
PNG cruised into the decider after commanding performances in earlier matches and proved they are the premier cricketing nation in the Pacific after dominating Fiji in the final.
“We have worked hard for this tournament focusing for the past four months to win this inaugural Twenty/20 tournament,” jubilant captain Chris Amini said when receiving the trophy last Friday.
“Our new national coaching director Andy Bichel and team coach Rarua Dikana have set us lofty goals and really made us change our old habits,” he said.
“Fiji gave us a few scares there but all in all we’re very happy to have won,” he said.
Batting first, the Barramundis’ openers Assad Vala and Vani Vagi Morea both made 12 runs apiece to get the team rolling over the first three overs but the introduction of captain Amini and diminutive international debutant Nigani combined to produce the match-winning partnership, belting the Fijian bowlers to all parts of the Samoa Garden Oval’s No.1 ground.
The pair scored 149 runs off 86 balls.
Chasing 209 to win, Fiji’s innings started disastrously when PNG ran out their star player on the first ball of the innings, once again displaying the athleticism that is fast becoming PNG’s trademark in world cricket. Fiji’s No 3 batsman was retired hurt when a Willie Gavera thunderbolt referred to as a sand-shoe crusher in cricketing circles, broke his toe and the chase was even more daunting.
Another PNG international debutant Pipi Raho, who had two excellent lead-up games with six wickets on day one, was rested from game three but struck back with fire in the final taking 3/30 off four overs.
He was ably assisted by Loa Nou with 2/15 and a wicket each to Willie Gavera and off spinner Mahuta Kivung.
PNG’s fielding again was outstanding throughout the innings.
In other games, Samoa did extremely well to claim third place.
The Samoan team defeated Japan with wicketkeeper Uala Kaisala hitting the winning runs.
Kaisala was also the hero in their previous game against Vanuatu hitting the winning four runs with three balls to spare.