Japan have flexed their muscles with a convincing win over Vanuatu, and now top the table of the ICC Under 19 Cricket World East Asia-Pacific Qualifier.
In almost a repeat of their previous match, Japan started slow and looked in real trouble at 4/29 off 11 overs.
However, captain Marcus Thurgate (58 off 82) steadied the ship, scoring his second half century in as many matches, showing great discipline on his way to the milestone.
Thurgate was ably supported by Kento Dobell (41 off 73) as they combined for a match defining 72 run partnership.
In reply, Vanuatu batted with patience aiming to make use of all 50 overs.
Womajo Wotu (33 off 83) and captain Bettan Viraliliu (32 off 71) showed their class, keeping out the good balls and punishing the bad.
However, it was plucky leg-spinner, Masato Morita (4 for 38 off 10) who took four wickets in seven balls, who spun the game in favour of Japan.
Player of the Match, Thurgate, was thrilled with the win, but acknowledged the team performance and highlighting his bowlers by saying “I was getting nervous as the Vanuatu boys bat well, but it’s great to have a bowling line up we can rely on.”
In the other day’s match, Samoa survived a slight scare after being bowled out for only 92 runs off just over half of their allotted overs.
Having both lost in the first match, Samoa and Fiji were desperate to get off the mark, but at 7/48 off 15 overs, Samoa were reeling.
Paul Rarotoga (22 off 39) provided some late relief, but the first innings belonged to Apete Sokovagone (4 for 31 off 8) who put the Fijians into a commanding position.
In reply, Fiji never settled and lost wickets on a regular basis.
Opening bowlers, Sitanisilao Toutai (3 for 30 off 6) and Sean Niutua (2 for 18 off 9) bowled excellent lines and were rewarded by bowling Fiji out for 56 runs.
Speaking after the game, Player of the Match Sitanisilao Toutai said “the team focus was on taking one wicket at a time, and I am grateful for the support of my coach for this direction.”
Teams now move onto a well-deserved rest day, before continuing the tournament on Wednesday 5 June.
The ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup East Asia-Pacific Qualifier 2019 is taking place in Sano, Japan from June 2 to 8 and features teams from Fiji, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.
The top team will qualify for the 2020 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup to be held in South Africa in 17 January to 9 February 2020.
Samoa 92 all out (25.1) Sokovagone 4/31 (8) defeated Fiji 56 all out (17.5) Toutai 3/30 (6), Niutua 2/18 (9) by 36 runs
Japan 198 all out (50) Thurgate 58, Dobell 41, Yosef 3/36 (10) defeated Vanuatu 128 all out (38.4) Wotu 33, Viraliliu 32, Morita 4/38 (10) by 70 runs