Vanua, Bau dig PNG out of 19 for 6 hole to seal T20 World Cup qualification

Papua New Guinea 118 all out (Vanua 54, Bundi 4-18) beat Kenya 73 all out (Karim 29, Vala 3-7, Pokana 3-21) by 45 runs

Norman Vanua had one of his finest days in a PNG uniform, scoring a T20I career-best 54 off 48 balls, including a 77-run seventh-wicket stand with Sese Bau to lift PNG out of a perilous situation at 19 for 6 in four overs, before taking 2 for 19 to help skittle Kenya out for 73 in an eventual 45-run win at Dubai International Stadium.

The result eliminated Kenya from playoff contention and clinched a spot for Scotland in the knockout phase. PNG must wait for the result between Scotland and Netherlands to see who will top the group for the automatic World Cup berth in Australia but a Scotland win over Netherlands win be enough for PNG.

Kenya made three changes to their XI, bringing in Emmanuel Bundi for his first match of the tournament and the medium pacer almost single-handedly kept Kenya in the tournament with a four-for that began with a triple-wicket burst in the second over. Tony Ura drove to mid-off, Assad Vala was trapped in front with an inswinger and Charles Amini drove away from his body for an edge behind to make it 12 for 3. Lucas Oluoch struck twice in the third as Lega Siaka edged to slip before Riley Hekure fended another edge behind. Kiplin Doriga then chased a wide ball in the fourth to make it 19 for 6.

Vanua joined Bau as PNG’s last two recognized batsmen and settled in thanks in part to some passive tactics from Kenya. Rather than bowling out Bundi immediately as he had done with Oluoch, captain Shem Ngoche held one over back for the 14th, by which time the ball stopped moving. Bundi bowled back of a length throughout, offering little challenge in his last six balls. Collins Obuya, who entered the match as Kenya’s leading wicket-taker, bowled just one over in the first 16.

Instead, Ngoche persisted with part-time medium pace to little effect. Sachin Bhudia was pulled for four by Vanua in the 10th and when Ngoche brought himself on to bowl left-arm spin, Vanua drove him over long-on for six in the 13th. Pushpak Kerai’s part-time legspin was preferred over Obuya in the 15th, and a half-tracker was smashed over midwicket for six again by Vanua. Bhudia was then pulled and cut for a pair of boundaries that took Vanua to his maiden T20I fifty off 45 balls in the 16th.

Obuya’s second over of the match in the 17th finally accounted for both Vanua and Bau. Jasraj Kundi took a catch at deep midwicket to claim Bau before Vanua slogged to long-on two balls later making it 96 for 8. But PNG had been let off the hook and the tail added another 22 before being bowled out with three balls to spare.

Kenya’s approach in the chase was no less confounding. Needing to chase in roughly 12 overs to give themselves the best chance of getting above Scotland in case of a Scotland loss to Netherlands in the afternoon, only Irfan Karim scored at better than a run a ball. Vanua struck in the first over of the reply, getting Dhiren Gondaria to fend an edge to Doriga. Karim struck his fourth boundary in the sixth but fell on the last ball of the Powerplay, pulling Damien Ravu to Amini at midwicket in the ring.

Kenya didn’t score another boundary the rest of the match as their middle order showed zero intent. Vala capitalized on the timid approach trapping Rushab Patel prodding down the wrong line for a seven-ball duck, Obuya slogged to long-on and Bhudia hit the PNG captain to Siaka at deep midwicket making it 51 for 5 in the 12th. Ravu, Vanua and Nosaina Pokana then cleaned up the tail, cementing PNG’s best ever record in the group stage of the T20 World Cup Qualifier.

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