PNG, Vanuatu surge into final
Papua New Guinea secured a comprehensive 141-run victory over Samoa, continuing their unbeaten run in the East Asia-Pacific Region Division One Twenty20 in the first semi-final in Port Moresby. After choosing to bat, PNG's opening pair - who have impressed throughout the tournament - put on 186 in little over 15 overs. Left-arm bowler Naa Vaasili finally got Samoa's first breakthrough, as Asad Vala fell eight short of a second century in the tournament. Tony Ura, however, completed his ton before getting out in the 18th over. Though the next three wickets fell quickly to new-ball bowler Faasao Mulivai, the damage had been done with PNG posting 234 for 5 in their 20 - the highest score in the tournament so far.
The mammoth total proved to be too much for Samoa as they folded for 90. Opener Sean Cotter was the only batsman who made it into the 20s as the PNG bowlers, barring opening bowler Willie Gavera, produced miserly spells. Medium pacer Chris Amini snagged the last three wickets conceding just eight runs, to end Samoa's innings with two balls to spare.
In the second semi-final, Vanuatu defeated Fiji by 35 runs, setting up a final with PNG on Thursday. Fiji chose to field and their bowlers responded well, keeping Vanuatu to a modest 126 in 20 overs. Andrew Mansale top-scored with a run-a-ball 42, but none of the others managed to go past 19. Mohammad Kahn was the pick of the bowlers, claiming three wickets, including those of the openers.
Fiji's chase lacked momentum. They finished seven down for 91 in their 20. Josefa Dabea managed 28 off 33 balls, but lost partners at the other end at regular intervals, before being run out himself. The Vanuatu bowlers were all tidy and did not allow any significant partnerships to build, but Jelany Chilia was the pick with two top-order scalps at 4.25 runs an over. Fiji will take on Samoa for third-place on Thursday.
Earlier in the day though, in a match proved to be a second-place decider, it was Fiji that came out on top, crushing Vanuatu by six wickets with five overs to spare at Colts Cricket Ground, Port Moresby. Choosing to bat, Vanuatu folded for 73, with a little more than three overs remaining, as three of their top four batsmen recorded ducks. The Fiji bowlers shared the wickets around, legspinner Viliame Yabaki claiming two in a five-ball spell without conceding a run. In reply, Fiji, aided by a generous 15 extras, chased down the total without much drama.
Samoa beat Japan by six wickets in a close-fought match at Amini Park, Port Moresby, to complete the semi-final line-up. Choosing to bat, Japan scored 123 for 3 in their 20, riding on an unbeaten 44 by Jarrad Shearer, and 42 by opener Qureshi Naeemuddin. Samoa's chase was steered by an unbeaten 41 by opener Sean Cotter. They paced the chase well, accelerating in the second-half of the innings - Faasao Mulivai struck four sixes in a cameo - to chase down the total with four balls to spare. Japan exited the tournament without a win.