Japan defeat Samoa in tight contest to reach final
ICC Media Release
Japan beat Samoa for the second time in the tournament by 12 runs to reach the final of the Pepsi ICC EAP Women's Cricket Trophy 2010 in Sano, Japan on Thursday.
Skipper Ema Kuribayashi won the toss again and elected to bat. It reached 12 without much trouble, before Samoan opening bowler Lily Mulivai struck twice in quick succession, importantly removing top order bats Ema Kuribayashi and Mariko Yamamoto.
Wickets continued to tumble for the Japanese, with Katrina Keenan also falling cheaply, and the Japanese were in deep trouble at 38-4 in the 20th over.
Young left-hander Kurumi Ota batted well under pressure, celebrating each run enthusiastically to make an important 39 from 70 balls, well-supported by Ayako Imasaki (15).
Off-spinner Tina Macumber made an immediate impact, removing Ota and Iwasaki and following up with the run-out of wicketkeeper Saito; Japan crawling to 112-9 from 50 overs.
With the sun shining and a fast outfield, Samoa was looking for stability against the new ball, and particularly seeing off former New Zealand international Katrina Keenan, with only a touch above two runs per over required for the win.
Makeshift opening pair Regina and Claudia Lilii began positively, reaching 16-0 before the talented Keenan cut a swathe through the Samoan top order, removing both openers and the dangerous Lily Mulivai to claim amazing figures of two overs, two maidens, three wickets for no runs.
Kirsty Tuala applied herself against the veteran Keenan, and played a disciplined and patient innings, well-supported by Tina Macumber, to push Samoa to 39 before Macumber missed a full ball from off-spinner Ema Kuribayashi, and was dismissed leg before wicket.
Captain Melinda Hodgson came to the crease and took control of the game, pushing singles at will and helping her partners at the other end to stay focused.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, her partners couldn't keep out a brilliant spell of swing bowling from Japanese medium-pacer Shizuka Kubota, and Samoa was dismissed for a disappointing 100, still with eight overs to spare.
While Japan move into the final tomorrow against Papua New Guinea, Samoa depart the tournament with its head held high having been in a winning position in all its three matches.