By LAURA MACINTOSH
A spirited Fiji U19 side has gone down to an experienced Vanuatu team in their second match of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) East-Asia Pacific region (EAP) U19 Trophy.
Fiji captain Jack Smith once again won the toss, and sent his charges into bowl.
There was an early resistance from the Vanuatu openers, until Josaia Baleicikoibia broke through, bowling Ronald Tari, for 15.
Once yesterday’s Man of the Match, Saimoni Tuitoga got the fifth wicket of Vanuatu captain and all-rounder, Nalin Nipiko, with a spectacular caught and bowled for 32, the wickets started flowing for Fiji. Tuitonga finished with 4-26 from his ten overs, and Sakiusa Dokosobau, who didn’t play in yesterday’s match against Samoa, also contributed with a handy 3-5 (2.4 overs).
In the end Vanuatu was bowled out for 89 in 25.4 overs, and with 90 runs required to win, this seemed like an achievable target for the young Fijian side.
However, the spirited Vanuatu captain, possibly not satisfied with his turn with the bat, was lethal with the ball, tearing through Fiji’s batting line up and taking 5-9 in nine overs.
Just as the match looked like it was all over before the designated lunch break, the Fiji tail-enders dug in and stood their ground, with Baleickobia making a solid 18 with the support of Cakacaka Tikoisuva and William Nawai.
However on his first ball of the day, Vanuatu’s Callum Blake broke through to take the final wicket, dismissing Fiji for 54 runs in 26.1 overs.
Unsurprisingly Nipiko was named Man of the Match, but Fiji’s Tuitoga was as close second, bringing his totally amount of votes for Player of the Tournament to five, the highest number so far.
Whilst Fiji coach Joe Rika was disappointed with the quick fall of wickets in the top order, he was delighted with the way the team bowled and the way the tail-end batters fought back, particularly as Fiji were batted out more overs than their opposition.
Due to the dismissal of both sides in less than the 50 overs allowed, both sides agreed to play a friendly T20 match after lunch. Rika is looking forward to the opportunity for his young side to get some additional practice against a quality outfit on the turf wicket.