Two wins for PNG as EAP qualifier begins
Papua New Guinea are the front runners after day one of the first EAP sub-regional qualifying tournament for the 2020 World T20 began today in Suva, Fiji.
In the morning, Papua New Guinea batted first against Samoa after skipper Asad Vala won the toss. Tony Ura dominated the run scoring for them, smashing 120 from just 55 balls. The final total for PNG was 209-8 from their 20 overs. Samoa did bat out their 20 overs in reply, but got nowhere near their target, scoring 129-7 and losing by 80 runs. Sean Solia and Benjamin Mailata scored 39 and 35 respectively before being two of the four wickets taken by Chad Soper for just ten runs.
In the afternoon, PNG took on hosts Fiji, again batting first though this time being put in by Fijian captain Sekove Rakova. Asad Vala top scored for them this time with 70 in their total of 188-8. Peni Vuniwaqa and Jikoi Kida both took three wickets for the hosts. Seru Tupou top scored for Fiji in reply with 46, but most of their line up was unable to reach double figures as they were kept to 113-9, losing by 75 runs.
Earlier in the day, Fiji took on Vanuatu in a match that went down to the last ball. Vanuatu batted first, but at 38-5 in the sixth over, things weren't looking promising for them. But a recovery was led by Nalin Nipiko's 47 as they were able to reach a competitive 143-9 from their 20 overs. Kitiano Tavo was the pick of the Fijian bowlers with 3-19 from his four overs.
Metuisela Beitaki initially led the way for Fiji in reply, scoring 52 before he was bowled by Patrick Matautaava. He'd go on to take two more wickets as Vanuatu got into the Fijian tail, but number five Peni Vuniwaqa held firm, scoring just 17 but hitting the winning runs from the final ball to secure a three wicket win.
In the afternoon, Samoa recorded the first surprise of the tournament with a win over Vanuatu. Captain Benjamin Mailata top scored for them with 57 in their score of 144-6, before Sean Soila - who plays for Auckland in New Zealand - and Lester Evile each took four wickets - the latter for just eight runs - to bowl Vanuatu out for 127, winning by 17 runs.
The tournament will continue tomorrow with two matches. Hosts Fiji will take on Samoa, whilst Papua New Guinea will look to make three from three when they take on Vanuatu.