Papua New Guinea have secured their place in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia next year – the first time they will feature in a senior World Cup in any format.
PNG first defeated Kenya by 45 runs in a thrilling morning match on Sunday, 27 October, and the failure of Netherlands to then beat Scotland in 12.3 overs of their chase meant PNG could book their tickets to the premier event Down Under next year.
The scenes at the Dubai International Stadium at the 12.3-over mark of the Netherlands-Scotland clash – watched eagerly by the whole PNG side in the stands – was one of unbridled joy. It’ll be their first major senior ICC tournament.
Having headed into the final day of the group stages of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 as favourites – they were top of Group A with a superior net run-rate to second-placed Netherlands – PNG nearly made a mess of things against Kenya.
They were reduced to 19/6 within four overs, and at the time, it seemed they had blown their opportunity to secure automatic qualification. However, led by Norman Vanua’s fighting 48-ball 54, PNG recovered to post 118 in 19.3 overs.
Then, it was up to the bowlers. Kenya had Irfan Karim scoring a 22-ball 29, and that meant they were 40/1 after the Powerplay. However, the slide began. There were only two more scores that reached double digits: Collins Obuya made a 19-ball 10, and Aman Gandhi fought to a 25-ball 14*.
Assad Vala returned a brilliant 3/7, and Nosaina Pokana provided superb support with his 3/21. Kenya were bundled out for 73 in 18.4 overs, and having done their bit, the PNG players waited in anticipation for the Netherlands result.
The Dutch won by four wickets, but it wasn’t sufficient on the day. They will have to go through the play-offs to reach Australia. As for PNG, they can already plan their itinerary.