Warm up fixtures point to even tournament

Vanuatu and Fiji defeat Samoa in warm up matches for the 2013 Pepsi ICC East Asia-Pacific Men’s Championship 

Fiji and Vanuatu have both come out on top with narrow victories against Samoa in their warm up fixtures for the Pepsi ICC East Asia-Pacific Men’s Championship today in Auckland.

Lead by their captain Joe Rika with 37 runs, Fiji posted a competitive 7-129 before restricting Samoa to 9-100 thanks to a tight spell that included two crucial wickets from Joji Bulabalavu.

The win provides some much needed confidence for the Fijian side as they come to terms with the loss of four key players who were denied visas on the eve of the event.

“We can’t deny that it is a major blow to lose some of the most experienced players in our squad,” said Fiji captain Joe Rika. “The four boys that have come in are very inexperienced but at the same time are very eager and I am confident they will do the job for us come Sunday when the tournament proper begins.”

Samoa suffered a second defeat in the afternoon at the hands of Vanuatu.

Defending 134 Samoa were in trouble early with Vanuatu tracking at more than eight an over at the halfway mark of the innings.

However some tight bowling kept them in the contest, eventually seeing scores level with one ball remaining.

Simpson Obed was the hero for Vanuatu remaining composed to smash a ball over covers for four and claim victory off the last delivery.

Trevor Langa top scored for the Vanuatu with 49.

“We got a scare today but it was good to get the victory,” said Vanuatu coach Peter Wooden. “We are building nicely and I am confident we will peak at the right time when the tournament gets underway.”

Fiji and Vanuatu will get to know each other very well in 2013 as regardless of the result here in Auckland the two sides will also travel to Botswana for Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 7 in April.

Despite today’s two losses Samoa will remain confident of making an impact when the tournament begins on Sunday.

The side finished third at the corresponding event in 2011 behind PNG and Vanuatu and with a number of Auckland based players in their squad anything short of a place in the final will be hard to swallow for the Pacific nation.

Warm up matches continue tomorrow with Vanuatu taking on both Fiji and Samoa.


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