Some big hitting on day two of Fiji's Easter tournament
The second day of Fiji's Easter tournament being played at several venues in the national capital, Suva, threw up some big hitting at the main ground, Albert Park, a thrilling finish at Suva Grammar and a comfortable victory for Suva in their match at the Army Ground.
The Easter tournament is an annual event which features composite teams from the various regions where cricket is played in Fiji.
Tubou and Moce, from the Lau Islands in the country's east, played a thriller that had the crowd hooting with delight in the final stages. Tubou won the toss and Joe Sorovakatini elected to bat. Jone Wesele and Jerry Baba put on a good middle-order partnership to get Tubou to a respectable, but very gettable 110 after being dismissed in the 27th over. The experienced Maika Kamikamica took 5 for 29 in the Tubou innings, ably supported by Sau Cakacaka and Kolinio Tawalokuci, who snared two wickets each.
In response Moce lost wickets at regular intervals with only Bale Taione (27) and Mosese Tale (17) reaching double figures as they struggled to reach the total. Iliesa Waqanituinatau caused problems with his pace, claiming 5 for 30, while allrounder Joe Dabea chipped in with 4 for 35 to have Moce in all sorts of trouble.
With the score 81 for 9 very few people would have expected a Moce win as No. 11 batsman Malakai Tenio strode out to the middle. However, in partnership with Jimione Duvu, the pair slowly built towards their required target. Some lusty hitting and scrambled singles were enough to keep the score ticking over while Tubou looked for the vital last wicket.
A boundary to Malakai eventually brought scores level and the crowd were on the edge of their seats to see what would happen. In the endJone Wesele broke Moce hearts when he claimed the wicket of Malakai with the scores level. It would have been one of the great comebacks in Easter Tournament history, but as it ended up the points were shared by both teams.
At Albert Park Fiji West scored an imposing 197 in 49 overs of batting thanks largely to an impressive 90 by Maciu Babiau. The young wicketkeeper was savage on some of the Suva bowling, smashing a number of huge sixes in his innings. Fiji West consists of players from Lautoka and Nadi and are fresh from playing in the recently resurrected Western Cricket League which had been defunct for several years.
Tukana Tavo and Greg Browne claimed two wickets each, but this was looking to be a batsman’s game with none more impressive than Babiau. When it was Suva’s turn to bat the team realised they would need someone to take a leading hand if they were to reach the target, especially with rain clouds closing in. Up stepped Joji Bulabalavu, fresh from his match-winning innings in last week’s Suva Cricket League final, to smash an unbeaten 79 to help Suva to 114 for 4 when an afternoon shower stopped play.
Viliame Mana was the best of the Fiji West bowlers with 3 for 28, but Bulabalavu’s innings was enough to boost Suva’s run rate above Fiji West when the rain storm meant there could be no more play today.
At the Army Ground, Suva (1), brimming with national representatives, comfortably beat Moce (2). Moce relied on a tail end partnership between Cama Ledua (35) and Kesoni Qoriniasi to get their score to 72. In reply, Suliasi Naulivou (34) and Waisake Tukaha (28) brought Suva to within reach of the total before Kiti Tavo finished the game off with a six for Suva’s second win in a row.
A wet and overcast day may have limited run scoring on the opening day of this year’s Easter Tournament but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players who are battling for their association to claim this year’s title. The overcast and humid conditions assisted the bowlers in the first day’s play as they dominated the bat in low scoring matches.
At Suva Grammar, Suva (2) got an early jump on Moce (2) thanks to an impressive opening bowling spell by the team’s two Fiji Under-19 reps. Tukana Tavo was unlucky to go wicketless, but he caused many a problem for the Moce batsmen in a fiery opening spell where he consistently beat the bat and had a couple of edges fly over the heads of the slips cordon.
At the other end Rahul Pala claimed the first three Moce wickets to put the islanders on the back foot early in their innings. Apart from a handy 21 by Tetu, the Moce batsmen never really go going with wickets falling at regular intervals. Uluseli Mainiusaladi formed the best partnership with Tetu, but a solid bowling spell by Iniasi Cakacaka followed by Eric Browne’s four-wicket demolition of the tail cleaned up Moce for a modest 69.
Suva (2) would have been quietly confident of getting the runs with little trouble, but the Moce opening bowlers had different thoughts. Kolinil Mocevakaca bowled an impressive opening spell and was getting enough movement off the pitch to cause headaches for the Suva batsmen. When he dismissed Omid Saberi with a beautiful delivery that clipped the top of off stump the Suva boys were 14 for 3 and in some trouble.
And it just got worse for the team with the quick loss of Eric Browne, closely followed by Joe Rika who was bowled by Kesoni Qoriniasi, leaving Suva in perilous trouble at 26 for 5. Iniasi Cakacaka strode to the middle and showed his experience to form a partnership with Colin Rika that saved the day for Suva and secured their win. The pair took the score to 70 without further loss and Suva recorded their win. Cakacaka was 27 not out while Rika remained 15 not out.
At Albert Park Moce (1) beat Fiji West by 36 runs in another low-scoring match. Moce batted first scoring 103 thanks to a pair of 22’s from Makutu Seru and Maika Kamikamica at the top of the order. Tunou Salusalu was the main destroyer for Fiji West, claiming 4 for 32, while Rajeev Patel turned in a handy 3 for 12. Speedster Viliami Mana, bowling off a shortened run in damp conditions, claimed 2 for 29.
In response to the modest total the Fiji West bats never got going. Only Sakove Ravoka (12) and Saimoni Matasarasara (10) reached double figures in the team’s total of 67. The wickets were shared among five bowlers, with Tagilala Rakuita claiming 3 for 12, while Maika Kamikamica backed up his batting performance with 2 for 15. Sau Cakcaka also claimed two wickets.
At the Queen Elizabeth Army Barracks Cricket Ground, Suva (1) defeated Tubou by six wickets..
Tubou batted first and compiled a modest 73 runs in their innings. Uate Uluiqalau was top-scorer for the team with 17 and was best supported by the experienced Joe Sorovakatini and JoneWesele with 12 and 13 respectively. Joeli Mateyawa claimed 5 for 24 to cause havoc among the Tubou batsmen, while Sam Draunivudi chipped in with 3 for 12.
In response, Suva 1 comfortably scored the 74 needed for victory for the loss of only four wickets. Waisake Tukaha top-scored with 16, while Jo Baba and Taione Cakacaka scored 13 each. Jone Wesele was the best of the Tubou bowlers with figures of 3 for 22.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo