CPNG Men’s T20 Smash: Week 1 Wrap

Isaac Lockett reports on the action from week one of the 2020 Curtain Brothers CPNG Men’s T20 Smash.

This week saw the start of PNG’s male domestic T20 competition, the Men’s T20 Smash, following the successful 50-over Isuzu National Cup, and the Women’s T20 Smash. The Trakpro MudMen, ODG Electrical Mariners, Toyota Cassowaries and the Hastings Deering Black Bass make up the tournament, with a number of national team players turning out for the event.

This year’s PNG male domestic T20 tournament could be said to have even more at stake compared to previous years, as one of the last opportunities players have to impress men’s national head coach Joe Dawes, before the 2021 T20 World Cup in India.   

(Photo: Cricket PNG)

Day 1

The tournament’s first match saw the Hastings Deering Black Bass victorious against the ODG Electrical Mariners. The Mariners won the toss and elected to bat, however, the Black Bass quickly gained momentum through Damien Ravu’s (2-12) two early wickets. Meaningful starts from Simon Atai (16), Kevau Donald (22), Guba Seuba (16) and Keith Griffin (12) all looked to help build the Mariners score, however, they were unable to gain any real traction thanks to all-round bowling and fielding performances from the Black Bass team.

The Black Bass were able to take regular wickets to ensure that the team held their momentum. Along with Ravu’s important contribution with the ball, CJ Amini (2-14) and Toua Gamu (2-14) performed to a high standard and helped the Black Bass team restrict the opposition to 102-8 after their 20 overs. The Black Bass then impressed with bat in hand as they chased down the target three wickets down. Kipling Doriga scored the first half-century of the competition during the chase and finished on a well-made 57*. The Black Bass completed their chase with five overs to spare.

The second game during day one of the T20 Smash saw the Toyota Cassowaries win the toss and elect to bat against the TrakPro MudMen. The Cassowaries made a good start thanks to an opening 24-run opening partnership before Jason Kila (2-13) then gave the MudMen two crucial breakthroughs. The Cassowaries were not perturbed by the fall of wickets and through Tony Ura (36) and Riley Hekure, they continued to score runs. Hekure continued to bat well and top-scored for the Cassowaries finishing with 40* with the team finishing on 130-4.

During the run-chase the Cassowaries made a positive start claiming two early wickets but the MudMen, through Gaudi Toka (23) and Jason Kila (19), made progress towards the team’s target of 131. However, in a match that had plenty of momentum shifts, a five-wicket bowling performance from Nosaina Pokana and Eddie Alewa (2-17) removed Toka and Kila from the crease to reduce the MudMen to 33-4. Norman Vanua (34) and Hiri Hiri (19) again looked to build momentum during the chase, however, with pressure building due to a rising required rate and skillful bowling, the MudMen fell short being bowled out for 113 after 19 overs.

When speaking after the first day’s action, Cricket PNG CEO Greg Campbell made the point that it’s not too late for a player to put their name in the ring for World Cup selection.

“It’s a shame we won’t be going to Australia in a month’s time for the T20 World Cup, but there is still an opportunity for someone to put their hand up in this tournament for the 2021 World Cup squad as we build to the T20 World Cup in India.”

PNG men’s head coach Joe Dawes was pleased with what he saw during the first day of matches, praising the players adaptability.

“It’s always a challenge to switch from 50 over cricket to T20 cricket. The batters are asked to hit boundaries from the first ball and the bowlers need to focus on their variations. Kipling Doriga, Riley Hekure, and Norman Vanua batted extremely well today, and I am especially proud of the bowlers as well. It’s not a small task to restrict a team to under 110 in 20-over cricket or to take a five-for like Nosaina Pokana.”

(Photo: Cricket PNG)

Day 2

Matchday 2 saw the Toyota Cassowaries play back to back games, with their first game the ODG Electrical Mariners before coming up against the Hastings Deering Black Bass. The Mariners once again won the toss and elected to bat.

A truly fantastic opening period for the Cassowaries saw the Mariners reduced to 5-7 within 5 overs. Sese Bau (3-17), Nosaina Pokana (2-7), and Michael Charli (2-6) all claimed wickets during a whirlwind start for the Cassowaries. From this point, it would take a monumental effort from the remaining Mariners batsman to post a competitive total and John Boge Reva (12) and Alei Nao (11) looked determined to help the team build a target for the Cassowaries to chase. However, the resistance was soon ended as Eddie Alewa (3-4) cleaned up the tail, and the Mariners were bowled out for 62 inside 19 overs.

Chasing a small target can always be a challenge though the Cassowaries took the initiative. The opening partnership of Tony Ura (31) and Vani Vagi Morea (11) scored 22 runs from the first two overs and despite the Mariners claiming three wickets, there were simply not enough runs for the bowlers to defend and the Cassiowares completed their chase after seven overs.

Part two of the Cassowaries double header saw them come up against the Black Bass. This time it was the Cassowaries who got the opportunity to set a score, and the opening partnership of Ura and Morea got the team off to a perfect start. Ura and Morea combined for 69 runs in 8 overs, before Ura fell for 46. The runs were flowing for the Cassowaries, however, a CJ Amini spell of 3-30 had the potential to destabilize the good work being done by the batsmen. Morea scored his half century and looked to kick on to make a big score, aiding the team bring up 150 runs in the process. Morea eventually finished on a confident and assured 79 with the team finishing 171-8, which based on the previous matches scores looked like a very competitive first innings total.

Pokana (2-34) once again displayed his ability with the ball and continued his wicket taking form. Despite these two early wickets, the Black Bass batsman made good progress during the chase with Amini (26), Bobby Diho (37) and and Mavara Hekure (30*) all making useful contributions during the chase to ensure the game was not one-sided. But the Cassowaries, through Riley Hekure (2-26), Eddie Alewa (1-10), Raho Sam (1-13) and Sese Bau (1-19) were able to take consistent wickets during the Black Bass run chase. The Black Bass finished at 126-7 from their allotted overs, 45 runs short.

National Head Coach Joe Dawes was impressed with what he had seen during the second day’s action and gave the Toyota Cassowaries plenty of praise.

“The Cassowaries were totally dominant today with both bat and ball. [Nosaina] Pokana continued his good form with another four wickets but it was a good team effort to restrict a team to 62 and 126 on a good batting wicket. The batters took charge as well with Tony (Ura) leading the small run chase, and (Vani Vagi) Morea’s quick 79 setting up that huge 171-run total”. 

Day 3

The Mariners took on the Cassowaries in the first of their two matches on day three, winning the toss and batting. Assad Vala and Willie Vagi (29) put on 104 before Vagi fell, though Vala continued to find the boundary, making 106 with 10 fours and 5 sixes. The Mariners scored 178-6 from their overs, a much improved performance by the team and an upturn in form for the batsman. Despite the loss of an early wicket, Toka (23) and Lega Siaka combined for a rapid fire 67 which ensured that the run rate did not rise to an uncontrollable rate. Toka was dissmissed by Assad Vala (2-25), who had a game to remember, but the wicket brought Hiri Hiri to the crease. Hiri Hiri scored a century during the later stages of the Isuzu National Cup and had been in fine form prior to the commencement of the T20 competition, and once again found his timing. Siaka (76) and Hiri Hiri combined for a 56-run partnership which took the teams total to to 126-3. Hiri Hiri remained at the crease and took on the responsibility of being the ‘in’ batsman to help the team successfully chase the target set by the Cassowares with two overs to spare, and personally finishing with an important 56* for the MudMen.

The second game saw the Black Bass opting to bat first; but the Mariners gained the early momentum. Sema Kamea (3-28) took two early wickets to give the Mariners an opportunity to restrict the batting team’s score, however the Black Bass were able to make a fantastic recovery. An exact half century from Kipling Doriga and Lega Tau combined with a 69 run partnership to signal the recovery of the Black Bass. Kamea and Assad Vala (4-10) then picked up wickets for the Mariners with the bowling team once again grasping the initiative. Damien Ravu scored 32 runs at the back end of the Black Bass innings and helped the team finish on 148-9 from their 20 overs.

The Mariners got off to another fast start, with the scoreboard reading 32-0 after three overs. However Savaki Gebai (4-16), picked up the wicket of Vala (32) and the runs began to dry up with the Black Bass being able to build good pressure with the ball. The Mariners were unable to build any meaningful partnerships in the context of the game, and were eventually bowled out for 99.

(Photo: Cricket PNG)

National Head Coach Joe Dawes was impressed with the batting on display, particularly from Vala.

“Today was dominated by the bat, Assad (Vala) hit the first century of the tournament and there were half centuries to Lega (Siaka), Hiri (Hiri) and Kipling (Doriga). The bowlers were quite admirable, the Black Bass bowlers managed to defend 140 after the Mariners made 180 in the morning match. Overall, it was another quality competitive outing for all the players today.”

Day 4

The final action of week one saw the the Black Bass play their double header; first coming up against the MudMen in the morning and then the Toyota Cassowaries in the afternoon.

The MudMen batted first, with Damien Ravu picking up the breakthrough of Norman Vanua for 8. But the pattern of play from day three appeared to be continuing with runs being seemingly easier to come by, compared to days one and two. Gaudi Toka and Lega Siaka took the score to 71, before an exceptional innings from Toka ended after he was run out for 40.

With the scoreboard reading 72-2 after 12 overs, the MudMen had a healthy platform from which they would be able to build on. Important contributions from Siaka 30, Jason Kila (17) and Dogodo Bau (23) meant the team’s score reached 143 after 17 overs, however, Damien Ravu (4-18) broke the momentum by taking two late wickets and restricting the Mudmen to 148.

The Black Bass made a bright start scoring 23 from the first two overs, but then fantastic bowling performances from Norman Vanua (2-29) and Kabua Vagi Morea (4-22) put the MudMen in the driver’s seat to go on and take victory. Steven Eno (26), Mavara Hekure (14) and Bobby Diho (25) were all able to make starts which kept the Black Bass’ hopes alive, though the Black Bass fell 15 runs short and despite a late order surge from Ravu, who made 19.

Tony Ura once again starred for the Toyota Cassowaries. He combined with Raho Sam (21) to see the scoreboard reach 55-0 after 6 overs. Despite the start, disciplined bowling from Gari Dairi (2-16), Amini (1-18) and Savaki Gebai (3-17) meant the Cassowaries finished on 138-9, with Nigani Heni (12), Travis Vuivagi (16), and Nosaina Pokana (18) deserving credit for their performance.

The Black Bass opening partnership of Kipling Doriga and Steven Eno started magnificently bringing up their 50-run partnership in seven overs. Doriga reached his half century soon after, and Steven Eno batted fantastically scoring 49. The Black Bass continued to bat well and completed the chase four wickets down during the 19th over. 

Reflecting on Week one Campbell was pleased with the standard of the action seen at Amini Park.

“It was a great way to bring in the weekend. The MudMen defended 148 and the Black Bass hit back in game two chasing 139 easily. The T20 Smash concludes next week and we are hoping we can get some of our Barras to take part in the Australian domestic season that is due to start soon.”

National Head Coach Joe Dawes was equally pleased with the end to the week saying.

“Another quality competitive outing for the men today. Kabua and Damien were the pick of the bowlers today, and that partnership between Steven [Eno] and Kipling [Doriga] was phenomenal. We would like to see a solid opening partnership to set up the team’s run chase.”

The exciting action is promised to continue during the second week of the 2020 Curtain Brothers CPNG Men’s T20 Smash with the final round of group stage games and the finals.

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