Fiji have triumphed over Samoa in their final match at Oakes Oval in Lismore today, which sees them advance as the next team from the East-Asia Pacific region to World Cricket League Division 6.
Threatening storm clouds did not delay the start of play, with Fiji captain, Joe Rika, winning the toss, and interestingly sending the Samoans into bat.
The situation was dire early for Samoa, with yesterday’s century maker, Fred Sapatu, departing in the second over after getting an edge from Imran Khan. Their woes continued, with Samoan captain, Ben Mailata, opening danger man, Sean Cotter, and top-order bat, Pritchard Pritchard departing in successive overs, to leave Samoa in a desperate situation at 4-9 after just 5 overs.
Faasao Mulivai provided some much-needed resistance with the bat, and on top of some dropped catches in the field, steadied the innings for Samoa. However when he was dismissed via Viliame Manakitoga’s second caught and bowled for the day, the end of the innings was signaled, with Riyad Khan taking the final two wickets in successive balls, to dismiss Samoa for 73 runs in 23.5 overs.
It looked as if would just be a matter of time before Fiji hit the winnings runs, until some big hitting from Fijian opener, Makutu Seru, came undone, and he was dismissed in the third over. This didn’t seem to phase Rika however, who, when joined at the crease by Giles Smith, notched up his second half-century in as many days, to lead his team to a nine-wicket victory in just 9.5 overs.
After the game, Rika said he was incredibly proud of his team and all the sacrifices they had made to get to Lismore.
“We’ve worked hard for this. It’s been a long 16 weeks for the boys and a lot of hard work put into it, and a lot of sacrifices made, not just the boys here, but the ones back home as well. We’ve started from scratch with our squad, and we’ve built the team into something special, and leading into the future we know cricket is in good hands in Fiji.”
Fiji coach, Shane Jurgensen, echoed Rika’s comments, after his first major tournament as head coach of Fiji.
“I’ve very proud of the boys. We’ve prepared for a long time and worked really hard, but at the same time you’ve still got to turn up and do it on the day, and they did. I didn’t really have to say much this morning; they just went out there and did it themselves.
Manakitoga was named Man of the Match, for his performance with the ball, taking 4-20 off eight overs, with Rika a close second, thanks to an unbeaten knock of 51.The team will return to Fiji tomorrow.