Vanuatu renewed their place in the World Cricket League on the back of a fine all-round performance from Pat Matautaava (3-17 (10) and 54 (80)) defeating Fiji by 6 wickets to round out a week of dominant performances from the men in green.
By good design moreso than accident, the undefeated Vanuatu and Fiji found themselves in a quasi-final on the final day of the East Asia-Pacific World Cricket League qualifying tournament. Vanuatu entered the match in imperious form; Fiji looking weaker, but capable of an upset and an opportunity to put runs on the board first. Neither would come to pass. The pace and bounce of Matautaava and Blake troubled their troubled their batsmen throughout the first hour, with both Veretaki and Yabaki caught behind the wicket for ducks in the first two overs and Kida lbw shortly after.
Although Vuniwaga and Ravoka were able to see off Blake, they did so uncertainly, and without scoring many runs, reaching 22 off 11 overs. The change bowler Nipiko bowled Rapuka with his second ball, setting the scene for another catch behind the wicket in Matautavaa's next over. Gauna's suicidal run out after playing the ball back to the bowler two balls later set off a gymnastic floor routine and at 23-6 the match was effectively over.
Vanuatu's high fielding standards slipped slightly after that, but only the final wicket was able to capitalise on their fortune or the relative ineffectiveness of the spinners. A 45 run stand between Riyad Khan (46) and Manakitoga (14) for the 10th wicket took them to 118 and the 48th over, but it never looked enough.
Despite losing Chilia first ball to the tall Fijian opener Manakitoga, Rasu and Matautaava set about making the total quickly. Even with the loss of Rasu (30) and Nipiko (8) in quick succession, they were well in front of where they needed to be at 61-3 in the 12th over. Moreover, the Vanuatu captain Mansale provides an experienced bulwark against top-order failure and by the time he was dismissed for 23 the target was less than 10, and the overs remaining more than 20. Matautaava was named the man of the match, but as has been the case throughout the tournament, the contributions were widespread, and their dominance complete.
Vanuatu beat Fiji by 6 wickets
Dower Park, Bendigo, 25 February
Fiji 118 (47.1 overs, Riyad Khan 46*, P Matautaava 3-17, N Nipiko 3-40)
Vanuatu 121-4 (27.2 overs, P Matautaava 54*)
Philippines beat Japan by 8 wickets
White Hills Oval, Bendigo, 25 February
Japan 111 (38.5 overs, R Mahajan 4-24)
Philippines 115-2 (35 overs, M Gohal 39)
Samoa beat Indonesia by 6 wickets
Canterbury Park, Bendigo, 25 February
Indonesia 182-8 (50 overs, Gaurav Tiwari 63, V Bhammar 50*)
Samoa 184-4 (37.4 overs, B Mailata 74*)