Japan captain and opener Ema Kuribayashi played an outstanding innings on the second day of the 2010 Pepsi ICC EAP Women's Cricket Trophy to set up a 93-run victory over Samoa.
Kuribayashi faced the first ball of the innings, and was left not-out on 78 from 158 balls at the compulsory closure after 50 overs.
The left-handed opener displayed a mixture of patience, class and excellent running between the wickets to help Japan post a competitive total.
Former New Zealand representative Katrina Keenan also played a vital role in the middle order, showing outstanding discipline to contribute 21 from 69 balls to help Japan to 169-8 from its 50 overs.
In reply, Samoa began poorly, losing opener Tina Macumber in the very first over, before slumping to 28-6 in the 16th over.
The Japanese attack was relentless with its line and length, continually beating the outside edge, and coupled with a disciplined and enthusiastic fielding effort, was never in danger of losing the match.
Opener Kurumi Ota bowled accurately and with pace to grab two early wickets, while Katrina Keenan (2-10) and Kuribayashi also bowled well.
Japan and PNG will now play off on day three for the chance to move through to the final, while the loser will play in the preliminary final on Day 4 against Samoa.
Day One
Papua New Guinea eased to a strong 33-run victory over Samoa.
PNG won the toss and elected to bat on a fine and sunny day at Sano Cricket Ground, with Samoa taking the field for the very first time in a Regional ICC Women's Event.
The Samoans were confident of a good showing in this tournament, stemming from their 3-0 defeat of Fiji in the qualifier in February. Samoa began brilliantly, with star opening bowler Lily Mulivai taking a return catch early on to dismiss the talented Norma Ovasuru. This was followed by two more quick wickets to Fou Charteris and Julia Vito, and PNG were struggling at 36-3.
Samoa continued to apply pressure, however, thanks to some disciplined batting from Mabel Igo (27) and Ura Rigana (33), PNG scored steadily, eventually reaching a competitive 126 from 35 overs.
Samoa, with several overseas-based stars, had the target score of 127 well within their sights. While the innings began slowly, extras began to mount and Samoa reached the lunch break at 33-1, needing just 94 more runs to win with nine wickets in hand.
Unfortunately, opener Tina Macumber fell in the first over after the lunch break, caught behind from the bowling of Pauke Siaka. Samoa's middle order continued to battle away against an extremely tight spell from the PNG bowlers. But when star bat and captain Melinda Hodgson was knocked over for 14, PNG gained plenty of confidence.
Lily Mulivai was patient in the lower order, but the consistency of the PNG bowling attack was the difference in the end. Samoa were eventually dismissed 33 runs short for 94.
Player of the Match Kila Leka (4-10 from six overs) and Boni David (2-19 from 10 overs) were the best performers for PNG.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo