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Posted: Sunday 2 June, 2024 at 7:55 PM

West Indies survive spirited Papua New Guinea Challenge in World Cup opener

Roston Chase drives a delivery against PNG at Providence (T20 World Cup/ICC Photo)
By: Staff Reporter in Guyana,

    GEORGETOWN, Guyana—Two-time World T20 Champions, West Indies, held off a determined Papua New Guinea (PNG) side to kick off their World Cup campaign with a hard-fought five-wicket victory at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.


    Chasing a middling target of 137, the co-host found it difficult in their pursuit, eventually reaching the target in 19 overs with five wickets in hand. 


    The standout performance came from Roston Chase, whose man-of-the-match innings of 42 runs off 27 balls propelled the Windies to victory on a challenging wicket in Providence.


    The West Indies' innings got off to a slow start as Johnson Charles departed for a golden duck in the second over, falling victim to Alei Nao. Nao had a chance to pick up another wicket when Nicholas Pooran was struck on the pads, but the PNG skipper opted against a review, later proving to be a missed opportunity as replays indicated Pooran would have been out.


    A rain interruption provided the West Indies with an opportunity to regroup.


    Pooran, who entered the game in fine form, struggled initially, managing only five runs off his first 15 balls. However, he found his rhythm towards the end of the powerplay, striking two fours and a six in the final over of the phase to take the Windies to 52 for 1. Brandon King (34) provided stability at the other end while Pooran struggled for form.


    The dismissal of Pooran and King in quick succession allowed Papua New Guinea to tighten their grip on the game during the middle overs. 


    Captain Rovman Powell (15 off 14) and Sherfane Rutherford (2 off 7) fell quickly under pressure, leaving the West Indies struggling.


    With 40 runs required off the last four overs, Andre Russell (15) joined Chase at the crease, injecting momentum into the innings with a powerful six off John Kariko in the 17th over. Chase then found his stride, guiding the West Indies to victory with a flurry of boundaries in the closing overs.


    Earlier, West Indies won the toss and opted to field first. This decision proved critical, as the visitors stumbled to 10 for 2 after three overs and managed only 34 runs for the loss of three wickets at the end of the powerplay.


    However, a resilient 44-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Sese Bau (50) and Charles Amini (12) steadied the PNG innings. Kiplin Doriga (27) provided late impetus, helping Papua New Guinea post a moderate 136 for 8.


    West Indies captain Rovman Powell praised the determination of the PNG team, acknowledging their adherence to a simple yet effective game plan. However, he expressed concern over his team's bowling performance, conceding more runs than desired.


    "They played smart cricket," Powell remarked.


    Assad Vala, PNG captain, expressed pride in his team's performance but lamented the missed opportunity to add more runs to their total.


    "I'm really pleased with the effort from the boys," Vala commented.


    Despite securing victory, there are lingering concerns regarding the West Indies' batting display. To contend for a third T20 title, the Windies batters will need to raise their game against stronger opposition in the tournament ahead.


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