PNG Barras return undefeated

A hugely entertaining ICC World Twenty20 East Asia-Pacific Region Qualifier 'A' came to an end yesterday, 29th August, in Suva, Fiji as the Hebou PNG Barramundis and Vanuatu made it through to the next round of the Qualifiers.

The Barramundis made their dominance show from the very first game when Tony Ura smashed a century of just 47 balls, to guide PNG past 200 against Samoa.

Samoa barely put up a challenge and could only manage 129 in their 20 overs, with Chad Soper picking up 4 wickets - 3 of them coming in one over - for only 10 runs.

Hosts Fiji were next as the Hebou PNG Barramundis played back-to-back matches on the first day, this time falling shy of the 200 run mark by 12 runs.

Captain Assad Vala top scored with 70, his first half-century of the tournament - while Jason Kila hit a quickfire 36, while also picking up a wicket.

The pick of the bowlers was Norman Vanua, who got 3 on the day as Fiji could only muster 113/9 in 20 overs. A great start for the Barras, winning both games by a huge margin.

Up next was Vanuatu, who the Barramundis played on a reserve day as rains spoiled the fun last Sunday.

Vanuatu found Assad Vala in top form as captain cool smashed a century of 45 balls. Ura and Amini both got half centuries as well as the Hebou PNG Barramundis posted a mammoth 239/2 - their highest at the tournament.

In response, Vanuatu went down fighting, becoming the first team to post over 150 against the Barras, but they were bowled out for 158. Chad Soper again impressing with 4 wickets - this time, all of them in the same over. By now, the Barramundis had won all 3 of their games at an average of 80+ runs.

The Hebou PNG Barramundis were up against it for the first time, in the next game against Samoa, who batted first against the Barramundis.

Opener Dominic Michael - who finished the tournament as the second highest scorer with 218 runs - hit a very impressive 83.

The Samoan openers put up a record 139 run partnership for the first wicket and helped Samoa to a challenging 175/4 in their 20 overs.

In response, Hebou PNG Barramundis, led once again by Assad Vala with 65, chased the total down with relative ease. After winning the match by 7 wickets, with two overs to spare - the Hebou PNG Barramundis had ensured qualification to the next round of the World T20 Qualifiers.

Fiji were up next on the same day and the Barras made short work of them - bowling the hosts out for only 31 runs. CJ Amini bowled an absolute blinder - 3 overs, which produced 17 dot balls and 3 wickets!

A changed up batting line up chased the score down in the 4th over as the Hebou PNG Barramundis made it 5 win from 5 games. The hunger to win despite qualifying was great to see.

On the last day, with the other qualification spot up for grabs between Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa, the Barramundis were still determined to return home undefeated. And they managed to do that in a tense encounter against Vanuatu.

Vanuatu were restricted to 145/9 in their 20 overs - a total that did not seem too challenging at first. But the Barras were made to work hard for their win, losing 8 wickets themselves while chasing the total down with only 8 balls to spare. Assad Vala's 4 wickets and 40 runs helping the Barras reach their target.

Speaking after the last match against Vanuatu, Vala praised his team’s hard working leading into the tournament. “It’s been a tough five months for us, to get the rewards for the work we’ve put in during this week has been really enjoyable. To come into the middle and execute under pressure is the most important thing for me,” Vala concluded, who was the most consistent performer throughout the tournament.

After the batting let them down during the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe earlier this year, it was great to see a number of batsmen among the runs.

Assad Vala top scored with 294 runs - one century and two 50s in his 5 innings and Ura was not far behind with 215. Amini had two not outs, in 5 innings, scoring 166 while also picking up 6 wickets in the tournament.

Batting deep, Jason Kila scored 86 runs in 4 innings, with two not outs and picked up 5 wickets and being very economical throughout the tournament, despite opening the bowling in many games. The pick of the bowlers though was Chad Soper who returned with 10 wickets while bowling (arguably), two of the best overs in the tournament across 2 games.

Hebou PNG Barramundis return on Saturday as Champions of the Pacific and continue preparations for the next round of qualifiers in 2019.

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Press release