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PNG energy: T20 suits our play, says Assad

T20 cricket captain Assad Vala - "What this group is about is working for each other"

| SportsCafe

DUBAI - It was a dream run for Papua New Guinea as they have earned their ticket to the T20 World Cup which will take place in Australia next year.

Their skipper Assad Vala, who will lead the team in their maiden World Cup adventure, said that the format suits their energy and its what they play back home.

After failing to capitalise on similar opportunities back 2013 and 2015, throwing away golden chances, PNG has finally seized the opportunity.

Coming back from a difficult stage of the game where they were reduced to 19 for 6, PNG fired up to defeat Kenya and secure the top spot in the group securing their ticket to Australia.

Unlike previous years, PNG players kept their cool as they pulled off an absolute miracle, despite posting a below-par total of 108 and dismissed the Kenyan team for only 73 runs, hence clinching a much-needed victory.

PNG skipper Assad Vala credited the youngsters and their belief for this outstanding performance.

"We're just trying to do the basics. What this group is about, is just working for each other,” Vala said in the post-match press conference when asked what's different about this year's squad.

“We just try to play our roles to the best of our abilities. We've got roles given to us by the coach and we're just trying to play them to the best of our ability.

“We've got a really good, disciplined bowling attack, our fielding has been outstanding lately, but I think the way the character we have shown, the fightback from difficult situations, I'm really proud of the way the boys have done," he said.

Papua New Guinea has been a force in the 2019 qualifiers. They had left little margin of error in securing five wins in six qualifying matches.

Their only loss came when they faltered while chasing nine runs in the last over, handing Scotland a narrow victory by four runs.

The fitness and electric fielding of the youngsters have been PNG's key to success in this campaign.

The experienced players have also done well to channel the team in the right direction.

Norman Vanua, who was part of the PNG team in 2013 and 2015 with Vala, acted as the pillar as he stitched a 77-run partnership with Sese Banua, when the team was struggling at 19 for 6 against Kenya.

This earned the Barramundis a miraculous victory.

"We knew that if we could get something around 120, we believed we could defend it," Vala said.

"It wasn't looking like that until a really good partnership between Norman and Sese. Sese played a really good foil to Norman. He showed us how to play on the wicket, just rotating and waiting for the loose ball.

“When it came he got the boundary for us, so I think that's something we can learn from him.

“Vanua has worked a lot on his batting. He's done the same for us in some of the 50-over matches where he's batted long, so it's not something new for him. He needed to bat long, and that's what he did for us," Vala said

The captain believes the format suits the energy team and it is something they play very often back at home. PNG has had a difficult time in the Cricket World Cup League as they lost eight straight ODIs before starting the qualifying campaign.

Many rated them as the underdogs of the round but they're now just two wins away from ending as tournament champs.

"The T20 suits the way we play,” Vala said.  “All our club games are based on T20s because of the grounds we have.

"I don't know how many qualifiers we've been to. We've come so close on so many occasions.

“Our ability is good. We can get it done. We believe we can. It's something we've worked really hard for and we're looking forward to it."


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