Russell and Chase to the rescue as West Indies beat PNG in T20 World Cup

By | June 2, 2024

West Indies beat PNG by five wickets thanks to a late surge in their opening game after the minnows gave them a scare.

West Indies’ Nicholas Pooran hits a six against Papua New Guinea during their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Group C cricket match at Guyana National Stadium in Providence, Guyana [Ramon Espinosa/AP]

West Indies stuttered and stumbled before eventually scrambling to a five-wicket win over minnows Papua New Guinea (PNG) in their opening Group C encounter of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Guyana.

Set a modest target of 137, the two-time former champions were undone by clever, disciplined PNG bowling in the cricket game on Sunday.

The cohosts slumped to 97 for five with only four overs left before all-rounder Roston Chase’s unbeaten 42 off 27 balls helped the cohosts over the line with an over to spare.

Their unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 40 came off just three overs and denied PNG one of the biggest shocks, not just in the eight editions of this tournament, but in all international cricket given that this was just their second appearance in a world tournament, having lost all three matches in their debut appearance at the 2021 T20 World Cup.

“Based on what we saw when PNG batted, it was always going to be hard for batsmen now coming in, so I gave myself some time to have the best chance possible and back my skills to get the ball away once I got in,” Chase said.

The player of the match conceded 26 runs from four overs of off-spin and also held a brilliant catch at backward point to remove PNG captain Assad Vala.

Vala led the way with the ball for the underdogs in taking two for 28 from four overs of spin after seamer Alei Nao struck at the start of the West Indies chase with the wicket of Johnson Charles’s first ball.

That early success fired up the Papuans despite the shot-making of Brandon King (34) and Nicholas Pooran (27).

When both fell within 11 deliveries of each other and captain Rovman Powell followed, PNG sensed an upset of monumental proportions before Chase redressed the balance when joined by Russell following the swift demise of Sherfane Rutherford.

“We were 10-15 runs short of what would have been a more competitive target, but after losing so many early wickets it was still a good effort,” said Valla in reflecting on the narrow loss.

“We are happy with the fight we showed in trying to defend that total. This is an opportunity for us and we look forward to the challenge to play our best cricket in tournaments and against teams like this.”

Earlier, Sese Bau’s belligerent 50 off 43 balls (six fours, one six) represented the only meaningful contribution from PNG in totalling 136 for eight after they were put in to bat.

Wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga (27 not out) and Valla (21) were the other players to get past 20 with fast bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Russell spearheading the West Indies effort with two wickets each.

“Credit to PNG because they played good cricket and their plans were simple, but at the end it was important for us to get the two points,” said a relieved Powell.

“We need to be better though in all three departments of the game [batting, bowling and fielding]. We weren’t quite up to the standard today that we expect of ourselves and we need to improve for the coming matches.”

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