<
>

Norman Vanua saves the day to put PNG in final

Norman Vanua drives a six high down the ground Peter Della Penna

PNG 130 for 5 (Bau 40*, Amini 31, Smit 2-29) beat Namibia 112 for 5 (Baard 34, Kotze 30, Vanua 2-16) by 18 runs

"SuperVan" - that's what 25-year-old allrounder Norman Vanua is turning into as his reputation as a caped-crusader continues to grow for Papua New Guinea. He produced another match-saving escape act with the bat by biffing a vital 20 not out off 13 balls at the death on a slow pitch before coming back at a late stage in Namibia's chase with some magnificent yorkers. That ensured an 18-run win for PNG, putting them in the final against Netherlands, and giving them a chance to raise their first title at a global ICC event.

PNG captain Assad Vala won the toss and chose to bat on a pitch with considerable moisture, which made scoring difficult as the day wore on following the first semi-final between the Netherlands and Ireland. Namibia's excellent fielding didn't make that task any easier as PNG realised in the third over when Gerhard Erasmus took a stunning one-handed catch leaping backwards at mid-on to dismiss Tony Ura for JJ Smit's first wicket.

Vala top-edged a pull off Christi Viljoen to Ben Shikongo at short third-man in the fourth over before Lega Siaka picked out Niko Davin at deep square-leg off Shikongo to leave PNG 32 for 3 at the end of the Powerplay. A half-century stand between Charles Amini and Sese Bau gave PNG a chance, though, as the pair pushed hard for twos with boundary opportunities few and far between. Two of those finally came from left-arm spinner Zhivago Groenewald's only over in the 13th as the injury-enforced absence of Namibia's leading wicket-taker Jan Frylinck became crucial.

ALSO READ: Della Penna: Papua New Guinea's rise as Associate cricket's heroes

Erasmus finally broke the stand with a round-arm delivery released practically from waist height that deceived Amini's charge and resulted in a stumping for 31 in the 14th. Kiplin Doriga and Bau clubbed a six each in the next two overs to kickstart the final surge before Doriga drove Smit to Erasmus at long-off in the 17th. It brought Vanua to the crease for a final flurry. A top-edged four over the keeper off Viljoen brought a boundary before Vanua clocked Smit over long-on in the penultimate over. Viljoen conceded just four singles in the final over, though, giving Namibia a bit of momentum heading into the break.

But the discipline from PNG, who have fielded an unchanged XI throughout the tournament, shone brightly again in the chase, beginning with a maiden from left-arm pacer Nosaina Pokana. It was enough pressure to produce an early wicket as an arm ball from Jason Kila skidded on to bowl Niko Davin for Kila's second wicket of the event on the tenth ball of the Namibia reply.

JP Kotze was dropped on 1 by Vanua at mid-on in the third off Pokana, but after a pair of sixes swatted over the leg side, Vanua came on in the sixth to exert pressure on Kotze with five dots. One over later, Kotze fell leg before to Amini's legspin trying to sweep a delivery that was far too full for the shot.

Across the next ten overs, Namibia only produced two boundaries. PNG's speed to the ball was equally suffocating as Craig Williams, Stephen Baard, Erasmus and Smit could only run four twos in the stretch. Suddenly, a very modest target had climbed past a required rate of ten per over at the end of the 14th.

Enter Vanua again. He struck with his first ball in the 15th, getting Williams to drive hard to Vala at extra cover. He should have had one more to end the frame too, but Doriga spilled a straightforward chance behind the stumps off Baard, who was on 33. Still, his figures read 2-0-3-1. With Namibia needing 39 off three overs, Vanua switched ends for the 18th and began with a pinpoint yorker to send off Erasmus and the final 17 balls were an anti-climax, as Vanua did his part to save the day in order to break Namibia's five-match winning streak.

Namibia 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st6SJ BaardN Davin
2nd35SJ BaardJP Kotze
3rd38CG WilliamsSJ Baard
4th2SJ BaardJJ Smit
5th11MG ErasmusJJ Smit
6th20JJ SmitZE Green