Caption: Fiji captain, Joe Rika, on his was to 78 against the Cook Islands in Lismore this afternoon.
The Fiji Senior Men’s side has experienced a great day out in Lismore today, comprehensively winning two games from as many matches.
The big game of the morning was touted to be at Oakes Oval between Samoa and Fiji, who were both battling for third position in the overall standings.
Samoa won the toss and elected to bat, but their luck ended there, thanks to a clinical performance with the ball and in the field. Fiji opening bowler, Viliame Manakitoga was on song, claiming dangerous Samoan opener, Sean Cotter, in the first over, and only conceding a mere six runs off his total four overs.
In the fourth over Imran Khan struck at the other end, claiming Cotter’s counterpart Uala Taitoe Kaisala for single figures, and had Samoa in trouble at 2-8.
The Samoan batsmen kept looking for runs, but seemingly couldn’t find them anyway, thanks to exception boundary fielding from Maciu Gauna and Rabici Lesuma. The situation was dire for Samoa, who was on 6-28 in the 9th over, but the tail wagged thanks to an unbeaten 20 runs from Maletino Lane Maiava, and in the end was bowled out for 68 runs in the 19th overs.
Buoyed by the return of captain Joe Rika from injury, it seemed if it would just be a matter of time before Fiji claimed victory in the second innings, as Rika and fellow opener Jikoi Kida Vanualevu strode out to the crease. Samoa had other ideas though, claiming Kida’s scalp in the third over.
However thanks to depth in their top order, Fiji never really looked phased, and despite losing a further two wickets, cruised to a seven-wicket win in 14 overs.
Once again Riyad Khan was named Man of the Match for his performance afield with the ball, whilst Makutu Seru received two votes in the race for the Player of the Tournament, for scoring 26 not out with the bat.
After the match, Rabici Lesuma, said that Fiji were happy with the way they approached the game, but there was still a lot more work to be done during their time in Lismore.
“To be honest, it’s been really pleasing to get the win. Samoa are a really good batting side, posting scores in excess of 120 runs, so to keep them to 68 today was really good. We bowled our lines and kept to our game plan so that was great,” Lesuma said. “Fielding was tight and that was the main thing we’ve been focusing on. It’s very encouraging, but there’s a lot more to be done obviously.”
In Fiji’s afternoon match, they took on their neighbours from the Cook Islands. The Fijian opening pair of Joe Rika and Jikoi Kida Vanualevu got off to an incredible start, with a 141-run partnership, before Joe’s scalp was claimed in the 11th over. This positive start ensured Fiji posted a competitive total at the end of the 20 overs, racking up a score of 5-228. Makutu Seru also chimed in with a half century.
The second innings didn’t get off to a good start for the Cooks, with Fijian opening pacer, Viliame Manakitoga, claiming the wicket of Osolai Aki for a golden duck on the first ball of the innings. When Imran Khan and Riyad Khan chimed in with seven wickets between them, the story didn’t improve for the Cooks, with them eventually being dismissed for 50 runs in 14.4 overs, giving Fiji their second comprehensive win of the day.
Fiji once again dominated the Player of the Tournament votes at the conclusion of the match, thanks to their comprehensive performance across all areas of the game. Joe Rika was named Man of the Match for scoring 78 off just 33 balls, Riyad Khan received two votes for finishing with incredible figures of 4-8 off his four overs, and Makutu Seru received one vote for his performance with the bat.
Fiji will play their final match of the Twenty20 component of the tournament in Lismore tomorrow, when they take on the Philippines.
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