Caption: Man of the Match Sagaitu Konusi.
By LAURA MACINTOSH
Fiji have finished third in the 2013 International Cricket Council (ICC) East-Asia Pacific region (EAP) Under-19 Trophy, winning their final match of the tournament in a Twenty20 format against Samoa.
For the first time all tournament, Fiji captain Jack Smith was on the wrong side of the toss, and Fiji were sent into bat.
Opener Netani Waqavakatoga went cheaply, but his compatriot Qalo Kau was on fire, hitting a quick 24 off 29, including four boundaries.
Sagaitu Konusi, showing he had learnt a lot from playing on a turf wicket for the week, was solid at the crease, hitting an unbeaten 27 off 29 balls. He had help along the way from Sakiusa Dokosobau (10 off 20) and Saimonu Tuitoga (10 no out off 19), and at the end of their 20 overs, Fiji was 6-102. Leo Taiala was the best with the ball for Samoa, with figures of 3-24 – a second-best on ground performance.
Fiji shared around the honours with the ball, with opening bowlers Josaia Baleicikoibia (1-12) and Dokosobau (2-4) dismissing the openers.
Siisii Pupula (16) and Ioane Logai (15) provided some Samoan resistance with the bat, but the Fijian bowling attack had refined their performance throughout the week, with Tuinamoli Koroi (1-18), Tuitoga (2-19) and Cakacaka Tikoisuva (2-9) all chipping in with wickets. The skipper took the final wicket in only his second over, dismissing Samoa for 70 runs in 18.3 overs, and finishing with personal bowling figures of 1-2.
Despite coming from the field due to sustaining a suspected fractured finger whilst fielding, Konusi was voted Man of the Match thanks to his performance with the bat. Tuitonga capped off a stellar tournament, receiving one vote for third-best on ground during the match.
Fiji coach Joe Rika was pleased with his team’s continual improvement throughout the tournament, particularly with how they fought back when facing adversity.
“You are the future of cricket in Fiji,” he told his players after the match.
The entire team was incredibly thankful to receive so much support from former Fijian national players both during their preparations in Suva, and whilst competing in Australia.
In the final of the tournament, Papua New Guinea held off a competitive Vanuatu side, to win by 45 runs and go through to the 2014 U19 World Cup in Dubai.