Vanuatu has won an enthralling final against Ghana at the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 on the picturesque Garden Ovals in Samoa today by 39 runs.
In other matches Japan defeated Belgium to claim third, Norway defeated Samoa to finish fifth and Suriname won a thriller over Bhutan by three runs to finish seventh.
In the main event, Vanuatu won the toss and elected to bat in the overcast conditions and quickly found themselves on the back foot when Isaac Aboagye dismissed Lenica Natapei caught behind for a duck.
Four balls later Aboagye was in the thick of the action again running out Michael Avok who had been promoted up the order and Vanuatu was 7-2.
Andrew Mansale and Jonathon Dunn came together and pushed a number of singles on their way to a handy 66 run partnership before Mansale was caught off the bowling of Obed Harvey for 22.
Nalin Nipiko then joined Dunn in the middle and the pair lifted the run rate with some impressive stroke play before a light shower forced them from the field just as they began to get on top.
Fortunately for Vanuatu the delay in play didn’t alter their momentum as Nipiko and Dunn grew in confidence on their way to a 108 run stand that saw both players bring up half centuries.
A late flurry of wickets that included two more from Aboagye saw Vanuatu lose three for 17.
However the damage had already been done as the Pacific side set Ghana the difficult target of 223 for victory.
Aboagye finished with the impressive figures of 4-39 while for Vanuatu Dunn top scored with 78.
In reply Ghana looked in a hurry to get the match over and done with quickly building their run rate above a run a ball.
Obed Harvey looked in ominous form belting seven boundaries on his way to 33 before a quicker delivery from Vanuatu captain Mansale knocked his off-stump out of the ground.
The fall of Harvey slowed the run rate dramatically for Ghana who despite wickets in hand at 69-2 still needed five runs an over for victory.
In the next nine overs the spin combination of Mansale and Jelany Chilia amazingly conceded only eight runs.
The tight bowling eventually frustrated James Vifah who was caught at deep mid-off by Dunn off the bowling of Chilia leaving Ghana 79-3 off 24 overs.
Soon after Ghana were given a few lives with two dropped catches and a difficult missed stumping before Simpson Obed struck in his first over taking the important wicket of Samson Awiah.
When Obed struck again in his next over Vanuatu sensed the match swinging in their favour with the score 92-5.
However celebrations were put on hold when Aboagye and Moses Anafie smashed 26 from two overs off the previously reliable Mansale and Chilia forcing the Vanuatu captain to throw the ball back to his strike bowler Patrick Matautaava.
The change proved a masterstroke when Matautaava trapped Aboagye in front sending him on his way for an entertaining 31 off just 29 balls.
Ghana continued to pile on runs at a quick rate however when Obed claimed his third wicket the score was 165-8 and Vanuatu had one hand on the trophy.
Then after a final late surge of runs from Kofi Bagabina, Matautaava made the result official with two wickets in five balls and Vanuatu won by 39runs.
“I can’t express how I feel right now with what the boys did out there,” said an elated Mansale. “We are all just so happy and can’t wait to get back to Vanuatu to party.”
Harvey top scored for Ghana with 33, while for Vanuatu Matautaava and Obed took three wickets each.
For Ghana despite the loss they still walk away from the event with promotion to division 7.
“I feel disappointed with today because I know we can do better,” said Ghana captain Peter Ananya. “But the good thing is we have made Division 7 so have more cricket ahead of us and time to correct our errors.”
Japan won the toss and elected to bat against Belgium in the 3rd/4th ranking match and quickly regretted their decision as they slumped to 5-39.
Two wickets each from Faisal Khaliq and Abdul Rehman set up the strong start from the European side determined to reverse their result against Japan from the group stage.
However a brilliant century from Alex Patmore helped his side reach a total of all out for 180 and a match that appeared lost for the Japanese was back in the balance.
Faisal Khaliq was instrumental throughout the innings for Belgium to finish with figures of five for 20.
Belgium was cruising early in the chase thanks to a 56 run opening partnership between Nirvam Shah and Sheraz Sheikh Muhammad. However the pair were dismissed in consecutive overs bringing Japan right back into the match.
From that moment on 16-year-old Japanese leg spinner decided it was his opportunity to announce himself to international cricket world taking a match winning 5-55 as Belgium fell agonizingly short by just 10 runs.
“He (Taniyama) is just such a talented young player,” said Japanese captain Tatsuro Chino. “He represents the future of Japanese cricket.”
The win secured Japan a respectable third place at the event while Belgium settled for fourth.
“This is a great result for us at this tournament considering we didn’t win a match at our last one so we are very happy,” said Chino.