The East-Asia Pacific XI has reached the final of the Asia-Pacific Rising Stars Trophy in Brisbane where they will play Papua New Guinea on Saturday, 17th August.
Their progress to the final was assured when they produced two excellent performances to beat the Australian Indigenous XI and then the previously undefeated PNG side.
A delighted Andrew Mansale, captain of the EAP side, said: "I'm so proud of the boys today. I’m proud of how they performed this morning against the Indigenous team and then how they carried that momentum into the game against PNG. To get two wins here today and to make the final is a massive achievement."
In the morning game against the Indigenous side, EAP batted first on a good wicket and openers Lega Siaka and CJ Amini got their team off to a flying start. Together they hit 80 off the first nine overs, before Amini ran himself out for a fine 59 off 38 balls.
The runs continued to flow for EAP however, as Siaka (26 from 23 balls) and captain Mansale (20 from 24) regularly found the boundary. Siaka’s departure in the 12th over brought Patrick Matautaava to the crease.
Matautaava and Mansale combined for a partnership of 52 and, despite a flurry of late wickets, EAP finished with an imposing total of 165. Adam McDermott, with two for 17, was the pick of the Indigenous bowlers.
The Australian Indigenous Development team got off to a promising start, scoring at 10 runs per over for their first six overs. Despite their run-rate, they lost wickets at regular intervals and when captain Ben Abbatangelo (45 off 39) went out in the 17th over with the score 136, EAP had all but won the game and the Australian Indigenous side finished 15 runs short of the target.
Matautaava was again heavily involved for EAP, taking three wickets and two outfield catches whilst Riley Hekure (1-27 from four overs) and Amini (1-24 from four) also bowled well.
Speaking after the match, Amini was happy with his performance, saying, "It was doing a little bit at the start of the innings but Lega [Siaka] and I worked together to get through it. We know each other pretty well and worked well out there together. We gave the team a good platform.
"I thought I bowled pretty well. I mixed up my pace and used the crease a lot, which I’ve been working on."
In the afternoon match, EAP made a competitive 120 for eight on a slow wicket against PNG. Mansale top scored for EAP, making a crucial 36 off 39 balls. PNG's chase never got going, losing wickets regularly throughout their innings to be bowled out for 96. Amini (3-23) and Matautaava (2-17) were again key bowlers for EAP.
There was an upset in the other match where the Australian Combined Services took their first win by beating the Australian Indigenous team.
The Indigenous team could only score 104 for nine, Gary Fuss (3-17) the pick of the bowlers. In response, the Combined Services' openers put on 76 for the first wicket and cruised to victory with eight wickets to spare in the 19th over, with Martin Blackman top-scoring with 42 off 59 balls.
In the other morning game, PNG comfortably defeated the Australian Combined Services. PNG scored 153 from their 20 overs on the back of Asad Vala’s blistering 63 off 38 balls. The Combined Services battled hard but came up short, finishing with 115 for seven.