Despite experiencing a win and a loss on day one of play at the 2014 International Cricket Council’s (ICC) East-Asia Pacific (EAP) region’s Men’s Trophy, Fiji are looking at the positives from their first day of competition in Lismore, Australia.
In their first match of the day, Fiji took on Indonesia at Blair Oval. Indonesia won the toss sending Fiji into bat, and on a tricky batting wicket, Fiji eventually got going, largely thanks to a gallant knock by Giles Smith, who scored 56 off 30 balls, and Maciu Gauna, who finished on 40 not out off 29 balls. Despite Giles being run out on the final ball of the innings, Fiji finished with a competitive total of 4-152.
Indonesia found the pitch similarly difficult to score runs on, and the slow run rate combined with falling wickets saw them fall 88 runs short of the winning target. Man of the Match, Riyad Khan, finished with incredible figures of 2-6 off his four overs, whilst Viliame Yabaki was just as effective, finishing with figures of 2-15. After 20 overs Indonesia finished with four wickets in hand and 64 runs.
Besides Riyad, Fiji dominated the Man of the Match votes, with Maciu receiving one vote for his knock with the bat, as well as figures of 2-4 with the ball, and Giles being awarded two votes for his top-scoring innings of the match.
The match of the afternoon was undoubtedly between Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG), over at Heaps Oval. Winning the toss PNG elected to bat, but from there things didn’t necessarily continue to go their way. After experiencing success in their morning match, Riyad was once again brought on in the fourth over, and claimed the scalp of opener Tony Ura. Two balls later his counterpart, Lega Siaka fell to the same fate, and in the 12th over Fiji had the top-ranked team in the region at 5-66.
The experienced PNG fought back though, largely thanks to Mahuru Dai who scored a Man of the Match-winning 67 runs off 42 balls. With Fiji captain, Joe Rika, being brought from the field with a back injury, and a dropped catch, Fiji began to lose momentum, but tightened their fielding in the final few overs, to restrict PNG to 8-158 off their allotted 20.
Makutu Seru got off to a flying start setting up the Fijian innings, notching up 37 off 31 balls. However the economy of PNG with the ball and in the field was evident, particularly thanks to two handy wickets from Norman Vanua. A partnership between Maciu and Jikoi Kida Vanualevu kept Fiji in the hunt, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the might of PNG, falling just 22 runs short.
At the conclusion of the match, Riyad, who was awarded another two votes for his performance afield against PNG, said that despite the loss, his team were relatively pleased with their performance.
“We really fielded well and fought well. Unfortunately our captain, Joe Rika, he couldn’t make it…but we still played really well.”
Maciu was once again awarded one point in the race for Player of the Tournament, scoring an identical innings of 40 not out to match his morning total against Indonesia.
Fiji are currently ranked fifth overall after day one of play in the 2014 ICC EAP Men’s Trophy, with 2 points and a net run rate of +1.650.
Tomorrow they will face Vanuatu in what is sure to be another heated clash of traditional EAP rivals, followed by Japan in the afternoon.