The excitement is palpable as one of the most enthralling tournaments in world cricket is almost upon us. The ICC T20I World Cup gets underway this month, and we preview the 16 teams that will be competing to lift the famous trophy. Here we have the lowdown on Papua New Guinea.
Few expected Papua New Guinea to blitz their way through the World Cup qualifiers and qualify for their maiden ICC global tournament. But the spirited Oceania nation will at the T20I World Cup looking to pull off what would be one of the biggest shocks in the history of the tournament.
Papua New Guinea’s recent form makes for a rather grim reading. They haven’t played much T20I cricket over the last 18 months, with their first game of the year in the format coming just last week (a defeat to Scotland in the World Cup warm-ups). And they have also lost each of their last 16 ODIs. But they can look back at their incredible performances at the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers as they aim to shock the world and qualify for the Super 12s.
Papua New Guinea’s biggest strength is their two opening batters who formed an excellent partnership at the World Cup qualifiers. Assad Vala and Tony Ura are a destructive opening pair with the ability to clear the fence at will. They are Papua New Guinea’s two leading run-scorers in T20I cricket, with a combined seven fifties and one hundred to their name. Opposition bowlers certainly won’t fancy facing this duo. And if they get going in the group stage, Papua New Guinea will fancy their chances of getting a win or two on board.
Papua New Guinea’s lack of recent T20I cricket is a big weakness going into the tournament. This lack of experience could hurt them in the group stage, especially against teams like Bangladesh and Scotland who have a number of seasoned campaigners and T20 globetrotters in their squads.
Papua New Guinea will make their ICC World Cup debut at this
tournament 48 years after the country was formally admitted as an
associate member of the International Cricket Council
What the media are saying
Expectations are low but the spirit is high in the Papua New Guinea camp. Few believe that the Barramundis have a chance of making it to the Super 12s. But these low expectations could work in Papua New Guinea’s favour and allow them to continue their miraculous run.
Assad Vala not only has 3 T20I half-centuries to his name, he also has the impressive record of never receiving a duck in his 26 international caps
Assad Vala is Papua New Guinea’s captain and star performer. He opens the batting, is a powerful hitter of the ball, can anchor an innings, and also bowls handy off-spin. He averages 24.52 with the bat and 13.80 with the ball in T20I cricket, making him a very consistent all-rounder to have. The 34 year old goes into the tournament in fine form, and he will arguably be the biggest key to his nation’s hopes in the group stage.
Nosaina Pokana has an excellent T20I record with 19 wickets at an average of 17.26 and is unquestionably the leader of the pace attack
Keep an eye on…
The Papua New Guinea bowling attack will be spearheaded by Nosaina Pokana. The left-arm quick was one of their star performers in the qualifiers, picking up ten wickets in the tournament. He is also capable of swinging the new ball, which could help him stand out on the pitches of UAE and Oman. What also makes him stand out is his economy rate of just 5.73, which is truly incredible for a fast bowler in T20I cricket.
Assad Vala (c), Tony Ura, Charles Amini, Kiplin Doriga (wk), Sese Bau, Lega Siaka, Norman Vanua, Jason Kila, Chad Soper, Nosaina Pokana, Kabua Vagi-Morea
For Papua New Guinea, making it to the T20I World Cup is a remarkable achievement on its own. While their chances of qualifying for the Super 12s appear to be slim, you just know that their passionate cricketers will play with smiles on their faces and give it their all. That passion and determination could help them stand out and possibly even deliver a shock result or two at the tournament.