Papua New Guinea cruise to T20 World Cup Qualification

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[File] PNG made it five in five.
[File] PNG made it five in five. © ICC

Papua New Guinea strolled into the sole qualification berth at the East Asia Pacific T20 World Cup Qualifier at Port Moresby on Friday (July 28) with an emphatic 100-run victory over the Philippines to go five from five in the tournament with one match still to go. The win takes the Barramundis four points clear of nearest rivals Japan, whose defeat at the hands of Vanuatu in the morning match means they can no longer catch up to the hosts, who look set to cruise through the competition unbeaten.

Japan had started the day still in notional contention for qualification, albeit two points adrift of the favourites and facing an implausible net run rate deficit. There hopes were snuffed out thanks to an outstanding individual performance from Vanuatu's Nalin Nipiko, who took 4-28 in an exemplary display of top-tail seam bowling before striking an unbeaten 74 off 50 in the reply. Nipiko struck with the 6th ball of the innings to pin Lachlan Yamamoto-Lake LBW, and though Japan Skipper Kendel Kadowaki-Fleming was able to stabilise the innings with a 34-ball 44, Darren Wotu's spell of 3-24 through the middle kept a lid on the scoring as regular wickets fell. Nipiko then returned to run through the tail, bagging three more wickets at the death as well as combining with Wotu for a run out as Japan were bowled out for 136 on the penultimate ball of the innings.

Piyush Kumbhare's left arm spin had Vanuatu pegged back early, dot ball pressure seeing Jarryd Allen stumped and Clement Tommy run out in the powerplay, but a 72-run partnership between Nipiko and Andrew Mansale put Vanuatu back in control. Though Mansale's run-out for 36 in the 14th over saw the chase stutter somewhat as wickets began to fall, Nipiko held his nerve to see his side home with three balls and five wickets to spare.

The result meant Papua New Guinea could seal their spot at the World Cup with a win over the last-placed Philippines, and by the interval that result was already practically beyond doubt. Daniel Smith winning the toss for the visitors would be practically the last thing that went their way, and after they inserted PNG traffic was one-way from the off. Tony Ura and skipper Asad Vala racked up a 118-run opening stand in just 10.3 overs before Ura was caught off left arm spinner Kepler Lukies for a 31-ball 61, and the wicket did little to arrest the flow of runs. Vala too posted a half-century before falling to Surinder Singh for 59, while Lega Siaka and Charles Amini only accelerated thereafter, adding 26 off 16 and 53 off 27 respectively. Hiri Hiri's four-ball cameo yielded two fours and two sixes to take PNG to a record 229-6 at the break, a target which would prove almost twice as much as the Philippines could muster. Captain Daniel Smith struck a defiant 20-ball 34 in the reply, but he would be the only bat to strike at better than a run-a-ball as the match swiftly became a formality. Scoreboard pressure led to three run-outs, all affected by Riley Hekure and keeper Hila Vare, as the Philippines slumped to a 100-run defeat.

Papua New Guinea thus became the third side to win through regional qualifying, joining Ireland and Scotland who secured their berths at the European Qualifier earlier this week. The remaining five berths will be decided at three Regional Finals later this year. The Americas Qualifier in Bermuda in two months time will see the hosts take on Canada, the Cayman Islands and Panama to contend for a single spot. November will see Namibia host the Africa Qualifier, where two spots will be up for grabs, the hosts facing off against Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Rwanda. The Asia Qualifier will be hosted by Nepal, who will be joined by the UAE, Oman, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bahrain and two further qualifiers from the ongoing sub-regional tournaments with two berths on offer.




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