Japan wins EAP Women's Trophy Final by nine runs
After four consecutive days of hot weather, the sky opened up and consistent rain greeted the players as Japan and Papua New Guinea took the field for the East Asia-Pacific Women's Trophy final. Japan captain Ema Kuribayashi won her fourth toss in a row, electing to bat first against an experienced PNG line-up.
Japan found the conditions difficult at the start, and coupled with an outstanding spell of bowling from PNG opening bowlers Pauke Siaka and Tanya Ruma, found themselves at 36-1 after 20 overs when play was stopped due to rain.
Play resumed briefly after the first rain delay, but the skies opened again soon after leaving Japan only 42 overs to bat. Ema Kuribayashi (21) was run out soon after the resumption of play, bringing the reliable Katrina Keenan to the crease, however when partner Kurumi was dismissed without scoring, Japan were struggling at 53-4.
Keenan began patiently, pushing singles and running well between wickets, before unleashing an almighty attack on all bowlers towards the end of the innings that included five boundaries and two enormous sixes.
Keenan was finally dismissed for a spectacular 60, and Japan was able to post a respectable 125-5 at the end of its 42 overs. After Duckworth-Lewis calculations, PNG was given a target of 132 to win from its 42 overs, a total made all the more difficult due to the unfriendly conditions.
However, PNG openers Mabel Ipi and Norma Ovasuru started particularly well, edging to 42 without loss before Ovasuru was dismissed leg before to Ema Kuribayashi. While the score was continuing to tick along, wickets were falling at regular intervals, and when PNG captain Ura Rigana was caught for 12 off the bowling of Ayako Nakayama, PNG was reduced to 68-4.
Boni David (15) and opener Mabel Ipi continued to score consistently, however when Ipi was caught leg before wicket off the bowling of Kuribayashi, the game was in the balance.
With Japan operating spinners from both ends, PNG was finding it difficult to force the pace, and the runs began to dry up. Kuribayashi bowled an outstanding spell, supported well by young legspinner Ayako Nakayama, and the two combined to choke PNG to 123-9, requiring nine to win from the final Kuribayashi over.
Number 11 Nao Kone hit the second ball high and deep into the outfield, where one of Japan's best fielders, Mariko Yamamoto, was waiting to accept the catch, giving them victory by nine runs.
Keenan was adjudged Player of the tournament. Japan will now progress to the ICC Women's World Cup ualifier, while Papua New Guinea and Samoa will have to wait until the 2012 East Asia Pacific regional tournament.
Team of the Tournament: Ema Kuribayashi (Japan), Norma Ovasuru (PNG), Mariko Yamamoto (Japan), Melinda Hodgson (Samoa), Katrina Keenan (Japan), Ura Rigana (PNG), Lily Mulivai (Samoa), Varoi Morea (PNG), Pauke Siaka (PNG), Ayako Nakayama (Japan), Tanya Ruma (PNG), Regina Lilii (Samoa)