The PNG Barramundis won their final Pool A game at last months’ Global T20 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in extraordinary circumstances in Dubai, to qualify for their first-ever ICC World Cup event.
In a game they were expected to win, Kenya won the toss and elected to send the Barramundis into bat, with the goal of bowling the Barras out cheaply then chasing down our total in quick time, in order to give them a chance of Qualifying for the finals.
The Kenyans made three changes to their line up for their final pool match and it was one of them – Emanuel Bundi – who ripped through the Barramundis’ top order, taking 4/18 off his 4 overs. He and fellow opening bowler, Lucas Oluoch (2/15), regularly found the edge, with excellent bowling leaving the Barramundis at a dire 6/19 in the fourth over.
Norman Vanua then joined Sese Bau at the crease and began building a score the Barras could bowl to; the pair put on a 77-run partnership before Bau was dismissed for 17. Vanua followed soon after for what turned out to be a match winning innings of 54(48), lifting the innings total to 118 after their allotted 20 overs.
The Kenyans lost their first wicket in the first over of their innings with the bat – off Vanua’s bowling – but then opener Irfan Karim got going and threatened to take the game away from the Barras with a score of 29(22), before Damien Ravu picked him up with the score then 2/40 off six overs.
Captain Assad Vala then brought himself and CJ Amini (0/11 off 4 overs) on, with Assad destroying their middle order with 3/7(4), thanks largely to the pressure built at the other end by Amini. The ground fielding energy and catching of the Barras was superb as they continued to take regular wickets, before eventually bowling Kenya out for 73 in the 18th over.
The five bowlers all did extremely well with Ravu 2/14(4), Pokana 3/21(3.4), and Player of the Match, Norman Vanua 2/19(3) – along with the spinners – enabling a 45-run victory in a low scoring affair. This was a hard-fought, backs–to-the-wall win, and sees the Barras finish the pool games with five wins and one loss, but just four runs to Scotland.
It was a nervous wait to see the results of the final Pool A clash between the Netherlands and Scotland to see whether PNG would earn automatic qualification to the T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020. A Netherlands’ win meant the Barras were reliant on net run rate to secure top spot in Pool A – and a ticket to Australia – which made for a nervous wait. However despite the Dutch defeating the Scots by four wickets, PNG’s superior net run rate of +1.591 cemented their spot atop Pool A, as well as a historic berth at the ICC T20 World Cup next year.