Inspired bowling and fielding ensure seven-run win, with Papua New Guinea undone after a strong start
Papua New Guinea is a colourful side – and not just because of the bright red and yellow jerseys. The players are vocal, spirited, and like to entertain. On Saturday (February 11), however, they consciously aimed to go clinical rather than to go big. They maintained disciplined lines in their bowling, and eschewed a tendency to hit out in favour of patience. At 72 for no loss in the 24th over, chasing 170, it seemed as if the tactic had worked and the team was on course for a memorable win.
Two pieces of sharp fielding from Scotland, however, changed the momentum of the game and gave the European side a thrilling seven-run win in their Group B ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 match, much to the delight of their considerable cheer squad at the Mercantile Cricket Club ground in Colombo.
It was to Scotland’s credit that the team kept plugging away on the field after a six-wicket haul for Pauke Siaka, the PNG captain, kept them to 169. At the slightest invitation, Kari Anderson, the offspinner, stuck her foot in the door to throw it open and received good support from Kathryn Bryce, the medium pacer.
The two were also involved in the two run-outs that changed the game. Brenda Tau and Tanya Ruma (32), the PNG openers, had given PNG the opening stand it had been lacking so far. The platform was set for their big hits to come, when Bryce, running in from mid-off, got a direct throw in at the non-striker’s end to send back Ruma. Anderson then was in with another direct hit to run out Siaka.
Sniffing a chance, Scotland worked hard to cut off the ones and twos. Scotland’s duo of the day bowled in tandem. The dangerous Kania Oala was caught in the deep with both names featuring in the dismissal, Bryce bowled Veru Frank for her only wicket, and Anderson, tossing it up and mixing it up, trapped Tau (46) in front to deny her a half-century.
With the required run-rate at around 6 in the last ten overs, Sibona Jimmy and Norma Ovasuru threatened to take the game down to the wire, but the likes of Kirstie Gordon (2 for 27) and Naz Chatterji held their nerve.
For PNG, Siaka came in only in the 38th over, after seven others from her side had a bowl. But she struck immediately, having the well set Rachel Scholes trapped in front. Then on, she dominated, taking advantage of the lack of depth in the Scotland batting, five of her seven overs resulting in a wicket.
The first hour of the game was up and down for both teams. PNG drew first blood after opting to bowl, having Sarah Bryce caught behind for the third time in as many games in this competition. Karthryn arrived to a pair of fours to deep square leg and third man. Hit by one that kept high, Ollie Rae swivelled and collapsed in pain, but pulled herself up to smash the free hit for six.
But bowling full, the spinners dried up the runs. Scotland added just eight in the ten overs following the six. Jimmy, the offspinner, was bowled out by the 29th over, finishing with a single economical spell of 10-5-15-0.
A lively performance on the field only added to the pressure, a good pick up and throw off her own bowling from Norma Ovasuru at the batter’s end running out Kathryn.
The fourth-wicket pair of Anderson (26) and Scholes (35) faced the familiar task of stabilising the innings. They were both strong in the V, their 59-run stand including a total of six boundaries and a forceful leg-side six.
Fi Urqhart (24) and Liz Priddle (31) played useful cameos. By the end it looked like they had done just enough to keep the Scotland flags, fluttering on the picket fences around the ground, flying high.