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T20 World Cup: Captain Assad Vala ‘proud of PNG’s fightback’ in loss against West Indies

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T20 World Cup: Captain Assad Vala ‘proud of PNG’s fightback’ in loss against West Indies

Georgetown, June 3 (IANS) After failing to pull off an upset against West Indies (WI) in their T20 World Cup 2024 opener on Sunday, Papua New Guinea (PNG) captain Assad Vala reflected on the match, noting that with a few more runs towards the end, they could have challenged the hosts more fiercely.

PNG’s T20 World Cup opener against West Indies marked only their eighth encounter with a Full Member team. Despite the daunting opposition, PNG’s performance suggested they could pull off an upset. After posting 136 on the board, they had the West Indies in trouble at 97 for 5 in 16 overs. However, dreams of an upset were dashed as Andre Russell and Roston Chase steered the hosts West Indies to victory.

“I think batting as well, I think we didn’t play the crucial moments the way we wanted. They had batsmen towards the end, which we didn’t. I think we missed out on a few runs towards the end as well. But I think credit to them. They got a lot of experience. So, I think we played really well. We executed our skills really well.

“We just couldn’t execute towards the end when we were put under pressure, but really happy with the overall performance of the boys. We didn’t post the target we wanted, but they fought till the end, so really happy with the effort,” said Vala.

After missing their chances to qualify in 2014 and 2016, PNG is now playing their second T20 World Cup in three years, having made their breakthrough in the UAE in 2021.

PNG’s innings saw early setbacks, with star batsman Tony Ura dismissed early and Vala falling for 21 to a stunning catch by Chase. Yet, Sese Bau’s determined 43-ball 50 and Kiplin Doriga’s late surge of 27 off 18 balls injected crucial momentum into their innings. Vala acknowledged the missed opportunities, particularly in the closing moments, but praised his team’s overall execution and fighting spirit.

“I think Sese Bau batted really well. And John Kariko, the left-arm spinner bowled really well. I think, Alei upfront with the new ball. There was a lot of stuff that we did really well. I think there are a lot of positives to take out from the game today. I think the overall performance was really good, but just the key moments that we just couldn’t put the nail in the coffin. But I think as I said before the effort was outstanding, we kept fighting against a really good side so happy, really happy,” added the PNG skipper.

The bowling attack, led by fast bowler Ale Nao, who dismissed Johnson Charles with his first delivery, kept PNG in contention. A controversial decision not to review an LBW shout against Nicholas Pooran cost PNG dearly, as replays later confirmed the ball would have hit the stumps. Pooran’s eventual run-a-ball 27 allowed the West Indies to stabilize before PNG’s spinners clawed back control.

Reflecting on the match, Vala highlighted the performances of Bau and Kariko, and noted the team’s overall strong display. He admitted that PNG’s inexperience with the Decision Review System (DRS) played a role in the missed review against Pooran, describing a chaotic scene akin to “street cricket” with mixed calls on whether to review or not.

“It’s a bit of a funny story. It was a bit like in street cricket, we don’t use a lot of DRS, so there was a lot of calls coming from everywhere – take it don’t, take it, take it, don’t take it. I didn’t know who to listen to but it is something we can learn from like I said we need to get the communication right when we [play] in the upcoming games,” he concluded.


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