Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
Middle-order stalwart Aaron Jones came through under pressure once again to lift USA out of a hole in the Powerplay at 43 for 3 to top-score with 77 in USA's first ever ODI win, defeating Papua New Guinea by five runs on DLS Method in Florida.
By Peter Della Penna in Lauderhill, Florida (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Aaron Jones struck an assured 77 to top-score in USA’s first home ODI and a late surge from Elmore Hutchinson, bashing 24 runs off the final over, ensured it wasn’t in vain as USA held off a gritty charge in the chase from Papua New Guinea to win by 5 runs on DLS Method on Friday at the Central Broward Regional Park. The win was USA’s first ODI victory in their fourth attempt as they exacted revenge on PNG from their last encounter in the third place match at WCL Division Two in April.
USA won the toss and elected to bat first with Rusty Theron, Nisarg Patel and Elmore Hutchinson making their ODI debuts for USA. But the top order struggled to back up the confidence of captain Saurabh Netravalkar as Jaskaran Malhotra, Xavier Marshall and Steven Taylor all fell cheaply in the Powerplay.
Malhotra fell in the sixth over for 18, driving a return catch that was brilliantly stabbed one-handed by Norman Vanua reaching to his right to make it 27 for 1. Marshall fell three balls later for 6, driving left-arm seamer Nosaina Pokana to Alei Nao at mid-off. Taylor become Pokana’s second victim in the ninth over, driving softly to captain Assad Vala at short extra cover for 9 to make it 43 for 3.
Jones then joined Monank Patel to commence a 78-run stand to rebuild the USA innings. Jones used a free hit to get off the mark, slamming a six over long-on at the tail end of the 10th over. But the bulk of his partnership with Monank was the result of clever running to milk runs square of the wicket. The stand came to an end through clever piece of captaincy from Vala, who brought up an extra man on the off side to tempt Monank into hitting left-arm spinner Jason Kila over the top. On the very first ball after the field was changed, Monank charged Kila but was beaten in flight and spliced a skied catch to CJ Amini at cover for 35.
Timil Patel became Kila’s second wicket for 3 when an attempted flick across the line produced a leading edge that carried in a jet stream wind to Alei Nao at deep square leg. Kila then took his third in his following over when Nisarg spooned a drive to Vala at extra cover to make it 138 for 6 in the 31st. Kila should have had his fourth in the 33rd when he countered Jones’ charge by darting a quicker ball down the leg side but Kiplin Doriga fluffed a straightforward stumping with Jones on 56 that turned into two wides.
The missed chance allowed Jones to construct another half-century stand, this time with Karima Gore. USA’s two fastest runners between the wickets sprinted their way to a 58-run stand with Gore serving as the aggressor, hitting three fours and a six in his 31 off 42 balls. But the pair fell in the space of seven balls to leave USA’s innings in peril once again.
Jones missed a paddle flick to Chad Soper’s medium pace and was given lbw in the 44th before Gore tried to smash Pokana through the wind and was easily caught by Tony Ura at long-on for Pokana’s third wicket. Rusty Theron was then spectacularly caught by Vala at short midwicket miscuing a flick off Nao for a second-ball duck completing a collapse of 3 for 6 to leave USA teetering at 202 for 9 with 28 balls left in the innings.
Rain had stopped play briefly after 39 overs and once more after 49 with the score 227 for 9. But USA was crucially able to bat the final six balls of the innings during which Hutchinson creamed a vital 24 runs, including three sixes, off of Nao to take USA to 251 for 9. Hutchinson ended unbeaten on 42 off 21 balls with four sixes in all, including one that hit the CBRP Pavilion three quarters of the way up, a wind-assisted hit of over 100 meters.
Kila ended with 3 for 40 in his ten overs, though could have produced more damage had the stumping chance on Jones been converted. Pokana produced an identical line of 10-1-40-3 as well after taking the new ball for PNG.
Just as the players were about to take the field for the start of the chase, a torrential downpour came down on the CBRP to produce the third and longest stoppage of the day lasting a total of two hours. In years past, it would have resulted in play being abandoned for the match but the addition of a SuperSopper at the ground after India’s visit in 2016 has produced a major improvement in the ability of the ground staff to get the facility in playing condition to resume.
PNG were eventually set a revised target of 177 in 25 overs. Pressure from Netravalkar and Theron resulted in the runout of Ura to end the second as Timil’s direct hit from mid-off found the big-hitting opener short at the non-striker’s end for just 1.
Barring a difficult dropped chance by Monank at long-on with Vala on 9 off the bowling of Taylor in the sixth, Vala and Norman Vanua were not troubled much through the end of the eighth over. Vala capitalized on the letoff to torch Taylor for 13 runs in the eighth, including a wind-aided six over cow corner, to take PNG to 43 for 1.
But Gore helped turn the tide USA’s way with a double-strike in the ninth. Vanua’s slog across the line to a quicker ball resulted in him being bowled for 15 before Lega Siaka was defeated attempting a back-foot punch for a golden duck to put Gore on a hat-trick at 45 for 3.
Vala continued to charge forward with Amini by his side in an outstanding fightback. Rain came back again though with PNG 78 for 3 in 13.4 overs. The brief shower caused two more overs to be deducted with a revised 23-over target of 165 set, leaving them needing 87 off 56 balls. PNG kept up the run rate scoring 30 off the first three overs after play resumed but crucially lost Vala in the 17th, missing a reverse sweep to be given lbw to Nisarg for 48 to end a 61-run stand with Amini.
Gore then took his third in the 19th as part of an outstanding four-run over which ended with Doriga slicing a catch to Marshall at short third man. It left PNG needing 43 off the last four overs.
Amini battled brilliantly, using the wind to his advantage from both ends while striking three boundaries as part of 21 runs for PNG across the 20th and 21st overs bowled by Theron and Gore to bring up a half-century off 32 balls. It meant PNG needed just 22 off the last 12 balls, but Netravalkar bowled a spectacular 22nd, pinning new batsman Kila on strike with three dot balls during the sequence, as Amini began the final over on strike needing 16 to win. But Theron defeated Amini’s attempted paddle scoop to bowl him for 53 and the combination of Kila and Nao managed just six runs off the next four deliveries to mathematically clinch victory for USA. A boundary off the final ball by Nao created the final margin of five runs.
Gore finished with figures of 3 for 25 in his five overs to lead USA in the field. Theron and Nisarg were the only other wicket-takers returning figures of 1 for 37 and 1 for 10 respectively. Netravalkar bowled an unsung spell with the new ball and at the death to end with 0 for 19 in four overs.
USA now has three days off before their next ODI against Namibia on September 17. PNG has five days of rest before taking on USA on September 19 in their second match of the tri-series.