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Match Analysis

Harsh initiation for newbies Fiji

An in-depth look at Fiji's display against Zimbabwe in the Under-19 World Cup

Brendan Sly steered Zimbabwe home with an unbeaten 29, Fiji v Zimbabwe, Under-19 World Cup, Group C, Chittagong, January 29, 2016

Fiji were only defending 81, but they could have tried bowling fuller lengths and varied their pace more  •  International Cricket Council

Playing their first international tournament at the Under-19 level, Fiji have endured a difficult time. Having lost their first game against England by a whopping 299 runs, they faced Zimbabwe and began with a certain degree of promise before subsiding to 81 all out and an eventual seven-wicket loss. Here is a detailed look at how they fared in the three departments.
After the nightmarish start against England, the Fiji openers Jordan Dunham and Tads Veitacini left everything outside off stump in the first eight overs, and only played balls that were on the stumps. It was a batting exercise rather than a batting partnership, even if Dunham did not exactly struggle through his 38 minutes at the crease. The openers seemed more comfortable against pace, and Veitacini showed determination to stick to coach Shane Jurgensen's instructions before edging Kundai Matigimu.
"We had a good start," Jurgensen said. "We were no wickets [down] after eight overs, which was our plan. I know that here batting is easier if you take time. If you lose no wickets in eight overs, it is pretty disappointing to completely lose our way."
Peni Vuniwaqa, Saimoni Tuitoga and Josaia Baleicikoibia are promising batsmen but none of them looked at ease against spin. Zimbabwe had variety in offspinner Wesley Madhevere, leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta and left-arm spinner Rugare Magarira, and the trio picked up nine of the ten wickets to fall. Madhevere bowled from around the wicket mostly, and the angle seemed to have confused the batsmen, who were perhaps playing for turn but the ball usually went on straight and either beat the bat or produced edges.
"They may have come around the wicket, which was something different, but there are no excuses," Jurgensen said. "We just didn't react accordingly. We made some bad mental errors."
Jurgensen said Fiji were not used to playing spinners back home, and said the batsmen needed to concentrate better against them.
"There aren't many spinners in Fiji," he said. "We play on artificial pitches where a bowler might get a bit of turn and bounce now and then but you don't get the ball to rip or stay low. We have been training for it, especially getting the net bowlers here.
"It is like we go across the rope and forgot how to play them. There's a lot of learning for these guys. If we had scored 150, it would have been a different game since they slipped to 3 for 30."
Four batsmen were bowled, two were out leg-before, three were caught behind or in the slips while one was caught in the deep. At training, the Fiji batsmen have been doing plenty of drills to groove defensive blocks and drives but adjusting to spin and swing still does not seem within their grasp.
Fast bowler Jack Charters had severe control issues at the start, giving away five wides in the first over alone. Charters is quite tall and well-built and has a nice action with a high arm coming down smoothly but he seem to have some trouble keeping his wrist fixed while he flings the ball towards the batsman.
Charters was removed from the attack after that first over and brought back for another later on. Baleicikoibia, who picked up two wickets, and Vuniwaqa bowled with less pace and more control.
Fiji were only defending 81, but they could have tried bowling fuller lengths and varied their pace more. There was also hardly any spin in their bowling attack with the first six bowlers they used ranging from fast to medium-pace.
The Fijians were athletic around the big ground but their reflexes need to improve. A catch went between the wicketkeeper and slip early in the Zimbabwe innings. It might not have happened had slip stood a little finer. Fiji continued to station the slip fielder squarer for all the seamers until he was moved to gully. Just then, a thick edge went to his left, where he had been standing the previous ball.
In one instance, the cover fielder made a wild, unnecessary throw towards the keeper that went far over his intended target and conceded an overthrow at the end of a tight over from Vuniwaqa. Throwing seemed to be an issue, as was the awareness of backing up behind the stumps. But the ground fielding was generally athletic, and wicketkeeper Tuitoga looked spry for most of the innings.
Jurgensen said the players were disappointed with their performance, the match lasting just over three hours. "Our strength is bowling and fielding," he said. "It is all learning and playing under pressure of playing against a Full Member side. We targeted this game to see where we are at, and give ourselves a chance.
"They are disappointed, and still learning. We just need to look at it positively. I know we can play better, we have done so in the past. We have to focus a lot in the next games of the tournament."