Papua New Guinea maintained their position at the top of the Group A despite being reduced to 19/6 after being put in by a Kenyan team looking for a convincing victory and net run rate boost to keep their World Cup dreams alive.
And it was a dream start for the East African nation. Emmanuel Bundi dismissed Tony Ura, Assad Vala, and Charles Amini in his first over; the latter wicket being the first in a series of batsmen caught behind the wicket.
Things went from bad to absolutely disastrous in the next over when Lega Siaka, with his feet rooted to the crease, poked at a Lucas Oluoch delivery that was taken at slip by a diving Collins Obuya.
Oluoch’s shouts of “come on” could be heard all the way from the press box after he got one to angle away and bounce on an unsuspecting Riley Hekure, who could only manage to knick behind to an elated Irfan Karim.
Kiplin Doriga, fresh off his career-best 43* against Singapore, chased a wide one, nicking behind to Irfan Karim as amateur statisticians broke out their calculators in an attempt to figure out NRR permutations.
PNG, however, still retained some hope when Norman Vanua came out to join Sese Bau the crease. The hard-hitting all rounder did not disappoint. After playing out Lucas Oluoch’s finals over and picking up the odd single off Kenya’s spinners, he whipped a Sachin Bhudia full toss off his legs for four to get his innings going.
Kenya skipper Shem Ngoche then paid the price for taking his foot of PNG’s throat as Vanua deposited him over long on and into the second tier. Pushpak Kerai would suffer the same fate soon after with Vanua’s hoik over mid wicket traveling even further than his first maximum.
Kenya dragged things back when Collins Obuya, conspicuous by his absence until then, picked up both Bau and Vanua in the space of three deliveries. Irfan Karim continued to shine in the field with a direct hit to dismiss Damien Ravu to leave Kenya 98-9.
Once again, however, Kenya let things slip, allowing the Barramundis to put on 20 crucial runs for the 10th wicket as Jason Kila chipped in with a pair of sixes off Shem Ngoche.
In response, Kenya—in an attempt to boost their NRR—opted to open with Dhiren Gondaria instead of rookie Aman Gandhi. The move did not pay off as Gondaria pulled off an uncanny impression of PNG’s batsmen, nicking behind to Kiplin Doriga.
Irfan Karim skied a few balls up in the air, just about managing to clear the infield before he started to find the fence.
Then came the turning point.
Damien Ravu dismissed the dangerous left-hander in the last over of the Power Play when he smashed a length delivery straight to Charles Amini at mid wicket.
Kenya lost all their momentum, only managing 2 runs in the first two post Power Play overs, losing Rushab Patel to an Assad Vala arm ball in the process.
In the absence of the injured Rakep Patel, Collins Obuya had to take charge of the innings.
He couldn’t do that.
Despite surviving an LBW appeal and almost holing out to long on off the bowling of Amini, he tried to clear long on once again, this time off the bowling of Vala. Unfortunately for Kenya, Sese Bau made no mistake and gleefully accepted a simple catch.
Things went from bad to when Lega Siaka, positioned at long on, ran to his right and took a tumbling catch over his head to give Vala his third victim.
With half their side back in the pavilion, Kenya never recovered, falling 45 runs short of PNG’s below-par total.
PNG maintained a Run Rate in excess of 2.00 at the top of the table, forcing the Netherlands to beat Scotland by a convincing margin in order to usurp the Barramundis at the top of the table.