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by Alastair Symondson & International Cricket Council Saturday 25 August 2018
Hometown favourites Fiji had a surprising three wicket win over Vanuatu on day one of the ICC World T20 - East Asia-Pacific Qualifier Group A in Suva, Fiji.
In other results, PNG comfortably won both their matches, while Samoa had one win, and Vanuatu left disappointed after going down to both Fiji and Samoa.
Sekove Ravoka, the captain of Fiji was ecstatic with his team’s performance because “PNG and Vanuatu have been dominating for a long time now in the EAP region so it’s a big step for us,” he said.
Metuisela Beitaki was the star with the bat for Fiji scoring 52 runs off 31 balls against Vanuatu in a game that could have gone either way.
Fiji looked to be on their way to an easy win before a collapse saw them lose four wickets for seven runs and stumble just 20 runs shy of victory.
With two balls to go, the home team needed two runs for a win and one for a draw with their boisterous home crowd right behind them.
But Peni Vuniwaqa (17 off 12) and Kitiane Tavo (5 off 2) got them over the line much to the delight of team mates and fans.
Fiji unfortunately lost their second match to PNG but the win against Vanuatu was an important morale booster at the start of the tournament.
PNG got off to a flyer in their opening match against Samoa as player of the match Tony Ura (120 runs off 55 balls) sent balls flying all over the park making him the first player to score a century in the tournament.
Captain, Assad Vala (75 runs off 41 balls) made it two for two for PNG as he led the team to their second victory against Fiji seeing them comfortably at the top of the table after two matches.
Samoa’s captain Ben Mailata (57 runs off 38 balls), put on a player of the match performance to also lead his team to upset Vanuatu in their second match of the day, helping to secure second spot behind PNG.
Samoa proved that catches do win matches on their way to a well-deserved 17 run win.
The afternoon match was also disappointing for Vanuatu as they were bowled all out by Samoa in the 19 over and left them 17 runs short of victory. Joshua Rasu put in a solid batting effort and scored 52 runs but it was not enough make Vanuatu victorious.
After day one of the tournament PNG are on top with Fiji and Samoa following closely behind and Vanuatu with a fight on their hands.
Vanuatu 143-9 (20) Nipiko 47, K Tavo 3/19 (4) defeated by Fiji 145-7 (20) Beitaki 52, M Gauna (28), Matautaava 3/23 (4) by 3 wickets
PNG 209-8 (20) Ura (120), CJ. Amini 25, Vaasili 2/8 (1) defeated Samoa 129-7 (20) Solia 39, Mailata 35, Soper 4/10 (4) by 80 runs
PNG 188-8 off 20 Vala 70, Kila 36, Bau 31, Kida 3/23 (3) defeated Fiji 113-9 off 20, Tupou 46, Vanua 3/18 (4) by 75 runs
Samoa 144-6 (20) Mailata 57, A Michael 35, Nipiko 4/37 (4) defeated Vanuatu 127 (19), Rasu 52, Evile 4/8 (4), Solia 4/28 (4) by 17 runs
©Cricket World 2018
ICC - International Cricket Council