Another huge defeat for Fiji
Fiji have been beaten by nine wickets against Jersey in the second round of the World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in Nepal today.
It was another very disappointing effort by the Pacific Islanders.
As highlighted yesterday, Fiji is without East Asia-Pacific star Josaia Baba, who did not make the trip to Kathmandu. Sakaraia Lomani has yet to take the field in this tournament and a third EAP representative in Joe Rika is nursing a badly injured thumb.
As luck would have it, they are the three players Fiji can least afford to be without.
Rika is continuing to play but is in quite a bit of pain.
A few changes were made to strengthen the Fiji batting for today's match. Maciu Gauna and Peni Rika came into the side and Tukana Tavo and Greg Browne were omitted which meant that they would be relying heavily on spin and gentle medium pace. Batting first, a big score was needed to give a weakened bowling attack some runs to work with.
Jersey also gambled. Matthew Hague and Ryan Driver bowled their full quota of 10 overs each at the start of the Fiji innings. The inexperienced bowlers took responsibility for the final 30.
Haque and Driver removed four batsmen in their 20 over partnership. The Jersey youngsters, led by 17 year old left arm orthodox spinner Ben Stevens who took 2 for 11 from 8 overs, did their job also.
Fiji didn't do themselves any favours. Two batsmen were run out and three were dismissed caught and bowled. 122 was all they could manage in just 36.2 overs. Sekove Ravoka, Jikoi Kida and Iniasi Cakacaka each scored 25.
Young Gauna was one of the batsmen run out. He will be an important member of this team over the next decade and it was a shame not to see him spend more time at the crease.
Jersey were able to chase down the target in just 20.3 overs for the loss of one wicket. Dean Morrison and
Hague both contributed 52.
A shell shocked Fiji must now be contemplating relegation to World Cricket League Division 6, even at this early stage. They must win two of their remaining round-robin matches to have any chance of keeping a spot in division 5.
Even taking into account the loss of a couple of key players, the margin of these two defeats has been startling and unexpected.
Tomorrow is a rest day for all teams then on Tuesday Fiji face the highly rated Singaporeans.