Frontrunners Papua New Guinea and closest rivals Samoa both continued their impressive unbeaten runs at the EAP Women’s Qualifier yesterday, with the results meaning that the winner of their final-day clash on Friday progresses to both the 2019 Women’s World T20 Qualifier, and the 2020 Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier. Both sides have been a class above the rest, with Samoa comfortably chasing four targets for the loss of just 5 wickets so far in the tournament, while PNG’s NRR of +3.59 highlights their dominance. With everything on the line, tournament organisers couldn’t have hoped for a better set-up on the last day.
Samoa’s bowlers made short work of the Ni-Vanuatu batting, with the hosts bundled out for just 58 as opening seamer Lagi Telea and veteran Maria Tato ran riot with 3/9 and 2/8 respectively. Two runouts added to the chaos, and Talili Iosefo cleaned up the tail with 2/12; only Alvina Chilia (13) and Rachel Andrew (19) made it to double figures.
Bat in hand, the Samoans had no trouble reaching the target of 59, as skipper Regina Lili’i anchored the chase with yet another unbeaten hand, this time 37*. Leading the tournament run tally with 149 (53 more than nearest rival, PNG’s Tanya Ruma) and yet to be dismissed in her 4 innings, Lili’i will be crucial to Samoa’s qualification chances against the Papuans tomorrow.
After Japan won the toss and elected to bat, PNG’s firepower with the ball was on display again, with captain Kaia Arua becoming their third bowler to record a 5 wicket haul this tournament, joining her colleagues Ravina Oa and Natasha Ambo. Arua’s left-arm wrist spin proved too much to handle for a Japanese outfit perhaps unused to the angle of approach, as nobody escaped single digits. First she bamboozled the middle order, with Miho Kanno and skipper Mai Yanagida falling in consecutive deliveries, before returning to mop up the tail with a second 2-from-2 as she extracted the veteran Shizuka Miyaji and new keeper Kotone Taniguchi in the 13th over.
With Japan dismissed for just 37, the Papuan openers were untroubled in their chase as they reached the target without losing a wicket and more than 13 overs to spare. Japanese opener Nao Togizawa tried gamely, with a tidy spell of 0/5 off 2 overs (including 8 dot balls), but Tanya Ruma took full toll of her opening partner Kasumi Nanno, thumping her for just the 5th six of the tournament so far.
Earlier in the day, Japan had a taste of success as they recorded their first victory of the tournament, downing fellow strugglers Fiji by 31 runs. In another bowling-dominated match, Japan battled to 118/9 off their 20 overs before Togizawa recorded 19 dot balls in a stifling spell of 2/7 off her 4 overs. She also ended the stubborn resistance of Ariera Tagilala (27 off 36) with a runout in the field as the Fijians were restricted to 87/8 from 20.
Returning to Independence Park after their thrashing by Samoa, Vanuatu gave a strong home crowd something to cheer about in the afternoon game as they overcame surprise packets Indonesia with a tense 4-wicket victory. After captain Selina Solman sent the Indonesians in, Vanuatu completed a clinical team performance with the ball as they went into the break needing just 64 for victory. Seamer Leimara Tastuki led the way as she wrecked the top order with 3/9 (including a jaffa to castle Wigradianti first ball), but Solman, Rachel Andrew and Alvina Chilia all chipped in with wickets, and there were also two runouts.
Indonesia fought back with the ball, however, with Edenyce Eduard (3/9) and Nikadek Fitria Rada Rani (2/13) taking regular wickets to peg back the chase. When Maiyllise Carlot was run out at the non-striker’s end off Eduard, Vanuatu were left teetering at 42/6 and 64 started to look very far away. But with the enthusiastic home crowd cheering the Ni-Vanuatu on, Nasimana Navaika displayed a cool head as she absorbed the pressure and produced 19* (27) to steer the chase home.
Reflecting on the tight result, Vanuatu captain Selina Solman was happy with both the efforts of her teammates and the home support: “I thought it was going to be an easy chase but it turned out to be a really close game… It’s amazing to have family and friends to come around and support women’s cricket. We also wanted to increase our place within the East Asia-Pacific tournament and I’m proud of our girls for doing their job for us.”
Scores at a glance:
Vanuatu 58 off 17.3 overs (Andrew 19, Telea 3/9) lost to Samoa 59/2 off 15 overs (Lili’i 37*, Solman 1/8) by 8 wickets with 30 balls remaining.
Japan 118/9 off 20 overs (Miyaji 22*, Tilau 2/24) defeated Fiji 87/8 off 20 overs (Tagilala 27, Tokizawa 2/7) by 31 runs.
Japan 37 off 19.3 overs (Arua 5/7) lost to Papua New Guinea 38/0 off 6.2 overs (Ruma 19*, Tokizawa 0/5) by 10 wickets with 82 balls remaining.
Indonesia 62 off 16.5 overs (Prastini 16, Tastuki 3/9) lost to Vanuatu 63/6 off 18.1 overs (Navaika 19*, Eduard 3/9) by 4 wickets with 11 balls remaining.
10 May morning: Indonesia v Fiji (Vanuatu Cricket Ground 1); Japan v Vanuatu(Vanuatu Cricket Ground 2)
10 May afternoon: Samoa v PNG (Vanuatu Cricket Ground 1)
Morning matches start at 9.30am local time, and afternoon matches start at 1:30pm local time.
Images courtesy of ICC.