2nd Match, Group C, Providence, June 02, 2024, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
(19/20 ov, T:137) 137/5

West Indies won by 5 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
42* (27)
Cricinfo's MVP
83.87 ptsImpact List

Chase seals West Indies' jittery victory against spirited PNG

At one point, WI were five down needing 40 off 24 balls in a chase of 137

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
West Indies 137 for 5 (Chase 42*, Vala 2-28) beat Papua New Guinea 136 for 8 (Bau 50, Russell 2-19) by five wickets
It was far from the confident start to the tournament that West Indies, co-hosts of the T20 World Cup 2024, would have hoped to make, but in the end they avoided adding to an ignominious list of upsets in a format they once dominated. Papua New Guinea almost took the game to the final over, only for Roston Chase's unbeaten 42 off 27 to prove decisive in salvaging a nervy five-wicket win in Providence, Guyana.
When PNG captain Assad Vala dismissed Sherfane Rutherford at the end of the 16th over, West Indies were five down and needing 40 from the last 24 deliveries. The sight of Andre Russell walking out at No. 7 was a reminder of what the Associate nation, playing in only their second T20 World Cup, were up against, however. Russell, an IPL winner with Kolkata Knight Riders a week ago, duly launched his fourth ball into the crowd to make the requirement 31 from 18.
Chase then kicked up through the gears, having anchored the innings while wickets fell around him. West Indies' No. 4, preferred in the side to Shimron Hetmyer, took a six and two fours off Vala in the 18th, before picking off Kabua Morea for back-to-back boundaries to bring the victory in sight.
It meant that PNG, with former West Indies World Cup-winning coach Phil Simmons looking on from their bench in his role of consultant, narrowly missed out on a first scalp at this level. Their best prospect had seemingly been to avoid embarrassment, after they reached the halfway point of their innings on 57 for 4; but Sese Bau's half-century and a fighting lower-order knock from Kiplin Doriga gave them something to bowl at. Had they chosen to review an appeal against Nicholas Pooran, who contributed 27 to the chase, before he had scored, West Indies' fragility might well have been exposed again.

The review that wasn't

Anyone who has followed West Indies' travails in ICC competitions recently - a dismal T20 World Cup defence in 2021, crashing out of a group featuring Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe in 2022, failure to even qualify for last year's 50-over World Cup - would have felt a familiar sense of trepidation creeping over them at the start of this run chase. Alei Nao struck with his first ball on World Cup debut, pinning Johnson Charles for a golden duck; then, as the rain started to fall, he nipped one fatefully back into the pads of Pooran…
PNG opted not to review umpire Rashid Riaz's not-out decision and were immediately made fully aware of their mistake as the players left the field for a 20-minute interruption, ball-tracking showing that it would have hit the top of middle stump with enough certainty to be overturned. On the resumption, Nao completed a wicket maiden, and with Pooran struggling for rhythm it was only thanks to Brandon King finding regular boundaries - his first 28 runs came via seven fours - that West Indies were able to make headway.
Pooran, on 5 from 15 balls, then launched Bau's offspin for 6-4-6 at the start of the sixth over, as West Indies surged to reach the end of the powerplay on 52 for 1, seemingly well placed.

PNG spinners squeeze

Despite that burst of aggression, Pooran never fully settled and did eventually become the second wicket to fall when he chipped John Kariko to long-on at the start of the ninth. Vala then brought himself on to make it spin from both ends, with King's attempt to break the shackles ending in the hands of deep midwicket. Vala delivered the second wicket-maiden of the innings, and West Indian nerves began to jangle again as they edged along to 77 for 3 at the end of the 13th, having scored 25 runs from 42 balls outside of the powerplay.
West Indies captain, Rovman Powell, struck a much-needed boundary off Chad Soper but was dismissed in the same over, despite confidently reviewing after being given out caught behind. Chase popped above the parapet to slog-sweep Charles Amini for six - his first boundary coming from his 15th ball - but Vala then had Rutherford caught behind in the following over, Doriga clutching the ball between a combination of legs, gloves and body, to leave West Indies 97 for 5 and fighting to stave off a major upset.

West Indies start like they mean it

Everything went right initially for the co-hosts, who were starting their campaign to win a third T20 title. Powell won the toss and chose to insert PNG for the morning start in Providence, noting the "inclement weather around and also a fresh wicket". Akeal Hosein opened the bowling and proceeded to concede just a single off the opening over, during which Tony Ura and Vala struggled to lay bat on ball. The scale of the challenge for PNG was clear.
West Indies duly made inroads, Ura edging behind off Romario Shepherd in the second over before Lega Siaka was undone by his second legitimate delivery, Hosein swinging one back through the gate to hit middle and off. Although Vala found his feet after inching along to 5 off 10, stepping out to loft Chase for an imperious six, then smacking Alzarri Joseph for two fours in three balls, he fell to the last ball of the powerplay - Joseph exacting revenge thanks to Chase's brilliant diving catch - to leave PNG up against it at 34 for 3.

Take a Bau

Bau had struck the first boundary of day, driving Russell back down the ground in the fourth over, and he played assertively to steer his side away from disaster and towards a competitive total. A reverse-sweep off Hosein also found the rope, before he skipped down to loft Chase through long-off. Although Bau lost another partner when Hiri Hiri fell to Gudakesh Motie's fourth ball, caught at slip reverse-sweeping, the subsequent fifth-wicket stand of 44 with Amini was comfortably the biggest of the PNG innings.
After a few overs of consolidation, Bau cut lose against Motie, hitting the spinner down the ground and over wide long-on for four and six from consecutive deliveries, then adding another boundary through the covers to get PNG's run rate above a run a ball. A top-edged four off Joseph took him to the brink of a half-century, although he lost his partner before he could get there as Amini nicked behind cutting at Russell.
Bau duly reached a 42-ball fifty at the start of the following over - the second by a PNG batter in T20 World Cups, and the second against a Full Member nation in T20Is - before being defeated by a Joseph slower ball to leave his side 98 for 6 in the 17th over.

Doriga drags PNG up

That PNG managed to add 38 from the last 21 balls of the innings was largely down to Doriga, as well as a sloppy finish from the West Indies attack. Doriga might have been dismissed for 1 off 6 balls, when a Joseph delivery clipped off stump without disturbing the bails, but the PNG wicketkeeper proceeded to combine hard running with the occasionally hearty thwack to finish unbeaten on 27 from 18. Shepherd, Russell and Joseph all leaked runs at the death, with the latter carved for back-to-back fours at the start of the 20th before overstepping with what should have been the final ball.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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Over 19 • WI 137/5

West Indies won by 5 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)
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