Expectations will be high for a team that has risen to 15th in the ICC rankings
History will be made in Port Moresby this weekend when Papua New Guinea face Kenya in the final series of round three of the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The 50-over matches will be the first ever ICC fixtures to be held in PNG, with Amini Park recently receiving ICC approval to host international games.
The PNG Barramundis will be playing in front of their home fans and friends and family for the first time and expectations will be high for a team that has risen to 15th in the ICC rankings.
The two games shape as defining in the WCLC standings with plenty on the line line for both teams.
Kenya’s squad is re-emerging under the leadership of Rakep Patel and coach Thomas Odoyo and now challenging as one of the teams to beat in the WCLC.
If Kenya wins both the matches, it will join Netherlands on top of the WCLC table with just four rounds to go.
Should PNG win both matches in front of its home fans, it will move to third behind Netherlands and Hong Kong.
PNG coach Dipak Patel has instilled a great discipline and strong belief in his group that this team can match is with its more experienced counterparts.
Norman Vanua: The barramundis paceman has been the consistent wicket taker for PNG across all formats and vital in his team’s WCLC fixtures. His 3/49 helped secure victory against Nepal last November while he took hauls of 5/59 against Ireland and 4/36 against Afghanistan in first-class fixtures recently.
Assad Vala: The rock of the PNG batting line-up, a proven match winner and arguably the side’s best batsman. He showed his class at international level with a century against Ireland in Townsville in February and scores of 62 and 81 against Afghanistan last November. His 87 against Nepal in his side’s WCLC win last November ensured a thrilling win for PNG with just three balls remaining.
Rakep Patel: The Kenyan captain has been instrumental for his team in the current WCLC series. He has played a significant role in Kenya’s matches so far including a match-winning 80 against Namibia last October. His leadership in what is now a young and emerging group is crucial to the African side climbing back into the top tier of international cricket.
What they said:
PNG Captain, Jack Vare:
“Every game is vital for us leading up to that for us to keep our status and ranking. We need to play hard and play well to reach that World Cup stage.
“The boys are handling everything really well. We are just concentrating on the job at hand. These is our first time playing in PNG so expectation are high.
We always watch on TV when teams are playing at home so the expectations are always high. I’m know that the boys and myself won’t worry about that and make sure we concentrate on what we can do on the field come game timeon Saturday.”
PNG Coach, Dipak Patel:
“Our preparation is totally different now. We take a different approach in how we prepare and we feel like that we have taken huge strides forward in how we prepare our guys. Whether that be from a fitness perspective or where cricket skills are concerned too.
“We are very comfortable with where we are at; we are certainly a lot fitter than we have been in the past. There has been an emphasis on special areas where batsman and bowlers have done special conditioning and strength programs during the last two months.”
Kenya Captain, Rakep Patel:
“We are aware that we have a tough assignment against our opponents Papua New Guinea who have been performing well in recent tournaments especially against Kenya”.
“At stake however, are positions on the table and we have strived to prepare well for the two matches in Port Moresby. Hopefully we can get both wins that will vault us back in to top spot and increase our chances of progression to the World Cup Qualifiers in 2018”
Kenya Coach, Thomas Odoyo:
“We have a good crop of players representing their country who are eager to achieve their set goals and help the team progress to the next stage”
“We are confident that if we are not complacent we will put up a very good show against PNG.
“The host will be a formidable opponent on home soil and we will look to counter attack that with a positive approach from the boys who back their natural style of play”.