Papua New Guinea has taken over as the new favourite
to top Group A and qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2016 following victory
against Nepal and a shock defeat for Ireland on what was an entertaining day of
Twenty20 action in Malahide.
The only unbeaten side left in the tournament, PNG
must feel that with two group matches remaining, it is within touching distance
of a historic first appearance at a major ICC tournament.
After a brief moment of concern in the morning when
Nepal raced almost to 50 off the first seven overs, PNG regrouped and delivered
a disciplined bowling and fielding performance, dismissing the final Nepal
batsman before the completion of the 20th over with the score
on 93. John Reva, Mahuru Dai and Assad Vala did the damage with the ball.
Despite losing Lega Siaka early in the run-chase, the
result was never really in question as Tony Ura and then man of the match Vala
and Kila Pala got the job done with eight wickets and nearly six overs to
Coach Dipak Patel has been pleased and impressed with
his side’s performances so far in the tournament but is anxious not to allow
his players get ahead of themselves.
“We’re very happy to take every game as it comes – and
it’s easier said than done – but this is a new area that these guys are going
into now. They’ve never been in this position. It’s our job to make sure they
keep their feet on the ground. We have a plan for our next game and that will
be the key,” said the former New Zealand player.
But that said, this was a very mature, assured
performance by a relatively inexperienced international side and shows the
growth in confidence on show as the tournament progresses.
“This is the sort of performance we have been
threatening and to polish it off at the end was great,” said Patel. “There has
been a fair bit of doubt about us among the other teams but we always had faith
that we could and I think we displayed it today. It shows the character that we
have and that we can come back. The first few overs we didn’t bowl to our plans
but we readjusted and that’s the most pleasing part for me.”
One of the first things the casual observer notices
about the PNG players is their excellent fielding. Clearly, it’s something the
PNG management had previously highlighted as an area they could gain an
“It was our goal beforehand that we wanted to be the
best fielding side in the tournament. We have always been capable of doing it
but we have never done it consistently. To date, we’ve been traveling very well
– our outfielding has been very good. We could improve some of our catching but
overall I’m very pleased with that aspect of our play.”
But as well as PNG is playing in the tournament, there
are other teams lurking, ready to pounce in the event of a stumble. Despite the
loss today Ireland remain a single point behind, albeit with an extra game
played, while Namibia and Hong Kong are placed just one point further back.
For the Irish, losing to Hong Kong is a massive blow
to their hopes of retaining their title and while they can still top the group,
that is only if certain results go their way and it looks more likely now that
William Porterfield and his team will have to do it the hard way through the
For HK, on the other hand, this tense five-run win
gives it every chance of progressing in the tournament. Irfan Ahmed was the
hero with the ball, taking 3-11 off four overs including the crucial wicket of
Paul Stirling, who was looking very good on 34 at the time. With a stellar
fielding display, Hong Kong held some tough catches and effected two sharp
run-outs to back up the bowlers brilliantly.
Meanwhile in Clontarf, a wonderful 90 not out by
17-year-old Jonty Jenner was not enough to earn Jersey its second win in the
competition as a man twice his age, Gerrie Snyman, led the Namibian chase with
82 runs of his own, the Africans winning the match by nine wickets.
In Group B, Stephan Myburgh orchestrated an impressive
run-chase against the winless Canada as the Netherlands had been set a
formidable 173 to win at Heriot’s in Edinburgh. The 31-year-old opener hit six
fours and four sixes on his way to a 30-ball 67, ensuring the Dutchmen were
always ahead of the rate required. Wesley Barresi (33 off 15 balls), Ben Cooper
(19 off 22) and Michael Swart (34 not out off 31) made sure of the win with
four wickets down and 15 balls to spare.
Afterwards, Myburgh was happy with the victory and his
personal contribution: “This was a must-win game and there was a little bit of
pressure on us going in so it was really great to get the result.
“Personally, I didn’t have a great start to the
tournament so the last two games it’s started to get a bit better and now I’m
really looking forward to tomorrow (Netherlands’ final game of the
group stage against Kenya)… We had a team day yesterday when we got away from
cricket and it was just what we needed so everyone is back now, fresh and
really focused. We are very confident after how we played today and ready to
take it into tomorrow.”
With no unbeaten team left in Group B, there is a good
chance that net run-rate could decide the placings of teams level on points.
“We haven’t really thought about net run-rate. We just
knew that if we won today and win tomorrow we’ll be right up there.
Net run-rate might play a role in deciding the places but for us it’s just
about winning our games,” added Myburgh.
The other game in Group B, the Arabian Peninsula derby
between UAE and Oman, was abandoned without a ball being bowled as the ground
in Stirling was hit with heavy rain overnight and did not recover in time. The
teams receive one point each.
At Malahide: Nepal 93 all out, 19.4 overs (Pradeep Airee
29; Assad Vala 2-7, John Reva 2-11, Mahuru Dai 2-13)
PNG 99-2, 14.1 overs
(Assad Vala 34 not out, Tony Ura 32)
PNG won by eight
At Castle Avenue: Jersey 161-4, 20 overs (Jonty Jenner 90
not out, Nat Watkins 27 not out; Bernard Scholtz 2-21)
Namibia 164-1, 16.3
overs (Gerrie Snyman 82, Stephen Baard 61 not out)
Namibia won by nine
At Goldenacre: Canada 172-8, 20 overs (Ruvindu
Gunasekera 51, Hamza Tariq 42; Michael Swart 2-24)
17.3 overs (Stephan Myburgh 67, Michael Swart 34, Wesley Barresi 33; Cecil
Pervez 2-26, Nitish Kumar 2-30)
Netherlands won by six
At Stirling: UAE v Oman
Match abandoned. No
result – one point each
At Malahide: Hong Kong 129-8, 20 overs (Mark Chapman 30;
Kevin O’Brien 3-32, John Mooney 2-18, George Dockrell 2-21)
Ireland 124-8, 20
overs (Paul Stirling 34, William Porterfield 28; Irfan Ahmed 3-11)
Hong Kong won by five