Report: West Indies Clinch Nervy Win Over PNG

Chase Seals West Indies’ Jittery Victory Against Spirited PNG

In what was far from a confident start to the T20 World Cup 2024, co-hosts West Indies narrowly avoided an early upset against a determined Papua New Guinea (PNG) side. In a match filled with tension and dramatic moments, Roston Chase’s composed 42 off 27 balls ultimately steered West Indies to a nerve-wracking five-wicket win in Providence, Guyana.

Nerve-Wracking Finish in Providence

West Indies found themselves in a precarious position, needing 40 runs from the final 24 deliveries with only five wickets in hand. PNG captain Assad Vala had just dismissed Sherfane Rutherford, raising hopes of a major upset. However, the sight of Andre Russell, fresh from an IPL victory with Kolkata Knight Riders, bolstered West Indies’ chances. Russell’s quickfire six off his fourth ball reduced the requirement to 31 from 18 balls.

Chase, who had anchored the innings amidst falling wickets, shifted gears to take control. A six and two fours off Vala in the 18th over followed by back-to-back boundaries off Kabua Morea brought victory within reach. This thrilling finish left PNG narrowly missing out on a historic scalp.

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Missed Review and PNG’s Bold Effort

PNG’s performance was commendable, particularly considering their limited experience at this level. Their innings was anchored by Sese Bau’s half-century, with a resilient lower-order contribution from Kiplin Doriga, giving them a defendable total of 136 for 8. Had they reviewed an early appeal against Nicholas Pooran, who went on to score 27, the outcome might have been different.

Early Drama and Missed Opportunity

The match began with early drama as Alei Nao, making his World Cup debut, dismissed Johnson Charles for a golden duck with his first delivery. Soon after, Pooran survived a close lbw appeal, which PNG opted not to review. Ball-tracking later showed it would have hit the stumps, highlighting a missed opportunity for PNG.

On resumption after a rain delay, Pooran struggled for rhythm, but Brandon King’s flurry of boundaries kept West Indies in the hunt. Pooran eventually found his touch, launching Bau’s offspin for 6-4-6, pushing West Indies to a solid 52 for 1 by the end of the powerplay.

PNG Spinners Squeeze the Windies

Despite the aggressive start, West Indies faced a spin stranglehold from PNG. Pooran’s eventual dismissal to John Kariko, coupled with Vala’s effective spin, saw King caught at deep midwicket. Vala’s spell included a wicket-maiden, further tightening the screws on West Indies. By the end of the 13th over, West Indies were 77 for 3, with only 25 runs scored off the last 42 balls.

Captain Rovman Powell briefly revived the innings with a boundary off Chad Soper but was soon dismissed, leaving Chase to shoulder the responsibility. Chase responded by slog-sweeping Charles Amini for six, but Rutherford’s dismissal added to the mounting pressure. With West Indies at 97 for 5, the game was finely poised.

Early Wickets and PNG’s Fightback

West Indies’ decision to bowl first was justified by early breakthroughs. Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd restricted PNG’s openers, with Tony Ura and Lega Siaka falling cheaply. Assad Vala’s brief counterattack was cut short by Alzarri Joseph, who combined with Chase for a spectacular catch, leaving PNG reeling at 34 for 3 after the powerplay.

Bau and Doriga Lift PNG

Sese Bau’s responsible batting ensured PNG avoided a complete collapse. His assertive stroke play, including a reverse-sweep off Hosein and a lofted shot off Chase, brought much-needed runs. Despite losing partners regularly, Bau built a significant fifth-wicket partnership with Amini. Bau’s 42-ball fifty, only the second by a PNG batter in T20 World Cups, was a highlight before he fell to a Joseph slower ball.

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Doriga’s spirited effort towards the end, combining smart running with powerful hitting, added 38 runs from the last 21 balls. His unbeaten 27 off 18 provided PNG with a fighting total, even as West Indies’ bowlers leaked runs in the final overs.

Conclusion: A Hard-Fought Win

West Indies’ campaign to win a third T20 title began with a jittery performance but ultimately a hard-fought victory. Chase’s calmness under pressure and crucial partnerships ensured they edged past a spirited PNG side. The win, though nervy, sets a foundation for West Indies to build upon as they navigate the challenges of the T20 World Cup 2024.

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