Throwing out the form guide in the lead-up to Women’s T20 World Cup East Asia-Pacific Qualifier, Vanuatu have claimed the region’s solitary spot at the Global Qualifier, brushing aside more fancied rivals over a dramatic week, here.
Despite a late challenge by Papua New Guinea in the concurrent match against Indonesia, who hoped for a Vanuatu slip-up next door, the hosts held their nerve with a 21-run win over Japan to finish unbeaten at the tournament, reports ICC.
Selina Solman’s side closed out tournament victory thanks largely with the ball, defending 107 and ending two points clear of Papua New Guinea, the side they turned over to send the tournament into a spin on day one.
Japan were kept to 86/9 by a strong Vanuatu effort in the field, with four bowlers claiming a pair of wickets. Rachel Andrew put her Player of the Tournament case above all challenges by taking 2/13 from four overs on top of her 43 with the bat, while skipper Solman (2/11), Vicky Mansale (2/15) and Vanessa Vira (2/19) joined in on the act. Vira, having come into the team as a 16-year-old for the tournament’s lead-in series against Japan, finished with a tournament-high 11 wickets.
It means that Vanuatu join Ireland, Sri Lanka, Thailand and United Arab Emirates as the five locked in teams for the Qualifier to be held early next year. One Qualifier through the Americas tournament and two via the Europe and Africa tournaments will join them.
Over in Vanuatu Cricket Ground No.1, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea met knowing they needed both a victory over their opponents and a Vanuatu blip, and with the slip-up not forthcoming, Papua New Guinea went on to finish second-place finishers with a comfortable 77-run win.
After Brenda Tau’s third T20I half-century set the platform, late hitting from Sibona Jimmy (21 off 17 balls) and Kaia Arua (28* from 15) shot Papua New Guinea to 141/4, of which 54 runs were scored off the last five overs. Maria Corazon Wombaki’s 33 provided some Indonesian resistance, though the side fell well short in response.
Earlier in the day the Cook Islands claimed a victory at the tournament, calm in their chase of 89 against Fiji. Youngster Zamera Maeva in her first international tournament stole the show with a score of 41 to go with her 3/18, with the result meaning that every team at the tournament will depart Port Vila with a victory.
The win also ensured the Cook Islands finished above Fiji on the table, with Samoa’s better net run rate than the pair putting them in fifth. Japan’s three wins to begin the campaign led to a fourth-place finish, with Indonesia ending the tournament as third.
In the Asia Qualifier action in Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand have booked their tickets to the T20WC Global Qualifier.
In the first semi-final, the United Arab Emirates emerged as victors against Hong Kong with a 57-run win. Esha Oza stole the show with her all-round brilliance.
After winning the toss, UAE captain Chaya Mughal opted to have a bat first. Her decision turned out to be a fruitful one as her side posted a competitive 141/4 courtesy of a solid 120-run partnership between Oza and No.3 batter, Kavisha Egodage. Oza top-scored with an impressive 50-ball 85 which was studded with 14 fours while Egodage played a composed knock of 42* from 46 balls.
In response, the Hong Kong line-up crumbled as nine of their players fell for single-digit figures. Opener Natasha Miles (15) and No.6 Maryam Bibi (34) were the only two to have managed to score in double digits. Oza in her only over snared two wickets while Mughal and Suraksha Kotte also chipped in with two wickets.
In the second semi-final, Thailand beat Nepal by 46 runs in a low-scoring affair. Thailand’s Nannapat Koncharoenkai led her side to 105/2 with an unbeaten 63-ball 59. In reply, Nepal were bundled out for just 59.
Thipatcha Putthawong and Onnicha Kamchomphu were the pick of the bowlers with three wickets apiece. The in-form Nattaya Boochatham picked up two scalps, taking her wickets tall to 16 – the highest in this tournament.
UAE and Thailand will meet in the final of the tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.