Papua New Guinea avenged their shock loss to Fiji in the same event two years ago, with a strong four wicket win on the opening day of the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – East Asia-Pacific Qualifier 2017 in Samoa.
Under overcast skies in Samoa’s capital Apia, the PNG Garamuts won the toss and sent Fiji in hoping to take advantage of the prime swing-bowling conditions.
The decision immediately paid off with left-arm pace bowler James Junior Tau (2/9 off 6.1 overs) swinging the ball both ways before striking in his second over.
He was ably supported by PNG’s other left-arm pace bowler Sema Igo Kamea (0/17 off 8 overs) who was unlucky not to take a wicket despite appearing to be too quick for the Fijian batsmen.
Fiji tried to settle but off-spinner and player of the match Boge Daniel Arua (4/21 off 10 overs) ripped through the lower half of the Fijian batting order as PNG bowled Fiji out for just 88 runs in the 37th over.
Fiji were up and about in the field and appeared to be on top as their opening bowlers ripped through the PNG order to leave them struggling at 3 for 18 in the sixth over.
However, Heagi Ronald Toua (27 off 28 balls) and PNG captain Vagi Karaho (15 off 30 balls) had other plans as they put on 45 for the fourth wicket and took the game away from Fiji.
A few late wickets gave Fiji some hope as opener Petero Cabebula (4/28 off 7 overs) finished four wickets but in the end it was too little too late with PNG passing the total in the 26th over.
Meanwhile, in the other match Vanuatu opened their account with a resounding eight wicket win over Samoa.
Samoa won the toss and chose to bat but may have regretted that decision as they lost their first wicket in the first over and the wickets continued to tumble throughout.
At 5 for 23 it was going to take a big recovery for Samoa to post a defendable score and unfortunately their remaining batters were not up to the task.
Vanuatu’s bowlers shared the wickets with player of the match Tony Tamata (2/6 off 5 overs), Obed Yosef (2/1 off 0.4 oers), Stephane Sandy (2/8 off 5 overs) and William Nalisa (2/10 off 4 overs) all picking up two wickets each.
Samoa bowled well early but did not have enough runs to defend as Vanuatu passed the total in the 16th over two wickets down.
Johnna Todah was the top scorer for Vanuatu with 17 not out.
Competition continues today with Vanuatu taking on Fiji and PNG going up against Samoa.
The 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – East Asia-Pacific Qualifier 2017 is taking place in Samoa from August 8th to 16th and will feature teams from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.
The top team will qualify for the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup to be held in New Zealand in January 2018.
Fiji 88 (36.1) Charters 16, Nakuna 16, Arua 4/21 (10), JJ Tau 2/9 (6.1) defeated by PNG 6/89 (25.2 overs) Toua 27, Karaho 14, Cabebula 4/28 (7) by 4 wickets
Samoa 40 (20.4) Yosef 2/1 (0.4), Tamata 2/6 (5), Sandy 2/8 (5) Nalisa 2/10 (4) defeated by Vanuatu 2/41 (15.1) Todah 17 not out, Nalisa 14 not out, Sofi 2/8 (5) by 8 wickets