By LAURA MACINTOSH
Fiji have gone down to Samoa, in a disappointing loss in their third pool game of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) East-Asia Pacific region’s (EAP) U19 Trophy.
Skipper Jack Smith once again won the toss, and this time elected to bat.
It was the first time Fiji had played on the Ron McMullin Oval this tournament, and despite the heavy rain earlier in the week, the now three-day old pitch looked appealing for batsmen.
Openers Metuisela Daucakacaka and Metuisela Beitaki got off to a solid start, until Beitaki was bowled by Iosefa Telu for 4.
Manese Tikotikoca recovered from the injury he sustained from the match against Samoa on Tuesday, and make a solid 14, before falling short to Alesana Tapaui.
In the end Fiji were bowled out for 83 in 27.2 overs, setting Samoa a challenging yet achievable run chase.
Despite a costly sundries count in the opening overs, Sowani Paumau struck in the third over, removing opener Liu Aiofavia via LBW for 8.
Smith maintained the momentum will the ball and was the best of the bowlers for Fiji, implementing some much-needed spin to the attack and taking three wickets. However he couldn’t remove the scalp of eventual Man of the Match, Fred Sapatu, who hit an unbeaten 38 off 35 balls.
In the end, Samoa hit the winning runs in 24.2 overs. Smith was named second best on ground for his figures of 3-23 off six overs.
Smith said that despite his side’s loss, he was pleased with the way his side had improved their approach with the bat.
Fiji U19s coach Joe Rika echoed Smith’s sentiment, saying that his young side would learn some valuable lessons from their mistakes in the field and with the ball.
The loss means that Fiji are now unable to make Monday’s final against Papua New Guinea, who will now face Vanuatu. Fiji and Samoa will partake in the third-place playoff.
Tomorrow Fiji will contest the final pool game of the tournament, when they take on Vanuatu.