It’s hard to believe that newly appointed national team skipper Nalin Nipiko is just 24 years old. The all-rounder has been in the system for well over a decade, making his debut for the Under-15’s as far back as 2009. Over the years, Nalin has developed into a genuine all-rounder and is arguably the nation’s best player after Patrick Matautaava.
In fact, he’s overshadowed his compatriots throughout the BetBarter Vanuatu T10 Blast, as anyone who witnessed his pulverizing 28-ball 78 against the MT Bulls will attest to.
And he didn’t stop there.
In the second innings, he bowled a 6-run penultimate over, leaving Stephane Sandy with the luxury of defending 15 off the last over to seal a remarkable come-from-behind victory.
It’s not all crash, bang, and wallop for Ifira Sharks’ one-man wrecking crew, as he demonstrated during a spirited 77 against a strong Singapore bowling line-up in the Challenge League in September 2019. Nipiko is quite possibly Vanuatu’s best player of spin, strong off his back foot on both sides of the wicket and just as comfortable when lofting the ball over the off side, often with a quick hop down the track.
Given his exploits as an opener in T10 Blast and the improvement in his range hitting, it will be interesting to see where he utilizes himself in the batting order across formats for the national side.
From a general team standpoint, he will be looking to inspire Vanuatu to close the gap between themselves and PNG in T20 cricket, and to a mid-table finish at the Challenge League.
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