Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
Karima Gore continued his phenomenal series with the ball, taking 4 for 20 including a triple-wicket maiden that rallied USA to a 62-run win over PNG in Florida on Thursday.
By Peter Della Penna in Lauderhill, Florida (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
USA maintained their undefeated start to Cricket World Cup League Two thanks to a thrilling fightback in the field led by Nisarg Patel and Karima Gore to trigger a dramatic collapse from 87 for 3 to 115 all out as USA rallied to defend a target of 178 in a 62-run win on Thursday at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida. Nisarg struck a major blow by trapping PNG captain Assad Vala for 38 in the 23rd over before Gore exploited the opening with a triple-wicket maiden in the 26th to leave PNG’s chase in tatters.
On a pitch that has been weighted in favor of slow bowlers throughout the week, Steven Taylor’s offspin made the first breakthrough for USA in the seventh over when he induced a loose flick by Tony Ura to Timil Patel at midwicket for 19 to make it 31 for 1. USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar then brought himself back on for a second spell and struck with his first ball in the eighth, getting Gaudi Toka to edge behind for 6. Lega Siaka then fell victim to a googly from the first ball bowled by Timil Patel in the 14th to make it 46 for 3 in the 14th.
But Vala and Kiplin Doriga had calmed PNG down with a 41-run stand. Vala looked assured throughout, sweeping Timil for a pair of fours in the 16th to take PNG past 50 and later pulled Jessy Singh for another boundary in the 21st as PNG took command of the second innings at 82 for 3 after 21 overs.
Nisarg’s introduction in the 23rd over provided immediate dividends as he beat Vala with a flighted delivery from around the stumps going back deep in his crease to flick through the leg side. It was the opening USA desperately needed and they seized on it impeccably. Gore and Nisarg bowled back-to-back maidens in the 24th and 25th to pile the pressure onto Doriga and new batsman Charles Amini. It was Amini who then cracked on the first ball of the 26th, going across his stumps to paddle sweep Gore and missing entirely to be bowled behind his legs. Hiri Hiri was bowled three balls later before Gore rounded off the over trapping Jason Kila with a very full delivery from around the wicket that struck him low on the pads stuck on the crease and the lbw appeal was upheld by Jacqueline Williams to make it 88 for 7.
Doriga continued to struggle getting the ball away against Nisarg, resulting in an ill-fated charge that saw him stumped for 13 in the 29th. Norman Vanua then slogged a full delivery straight to Monank Patel at short midwicket in the 32nd to give Gore his fourth, completing a slide of 6 for 7 to leave PNG hanging by a thread at 94 for 9. Chad Soper and Nosaina Pokana added 21 for the final wicket, remarkably the third-highest stand in the innings for PNG, before Pokana missed a drive and was bowled by Taylor to wrap up PNG’s innings in just 38.1 overs.
Gore’s final figures of 4 for 20 earned him Player of the Match honors. Nisarg claimed a vital 2 for 11 in six overs while Taylor ended with 2 for 30 in 8.1 overs. Timil claimed 1 for 25 in his five overs while Netravalkar had 1 for 10 in his five.
The second innings heroics of Gore and Nisarg upstaged a brilliant first innings half-century from Monank that gave USA hope after another top-order failure. After choosing to bat first, Jaskaran Malhotra edged Vanua to Vala at slip in the second over for 3. USA looked like they would make it through to the end of the Powerplay without further damage but instead PNG struck twice in the space of two overs in the 9th and 10th. Taylor drove a soft catch off Pokana to Toka at mid-off for 14 before Xavier Marshall wasted a good start playing down the wrong line to Soper’s medium pacer and was given lbw for 17 to make it 39 for 3.
The spinners soon took over for PNG to make further inroads as Aaron Jones edged left-arm spinner Jason Kila to slip for 2. Nisarg was beaten playing back to Kila to be leg before for 6 making it 63 for 5 in the 19th.
Gore then joined Monank for a critical 35-run stand to steady the innings somewhat. It took the intervention of Lega Siaka’s part-time legspin to break the stand as Gore was given out lbw for 16 playing back in a failed flick to the leg side. Timil lasted just nine balls for 1 before a limp cut off Siaka found Vanua at point to make it 100 for 7.
Elmore Hutchinson counterattacked with a vital 28 off 24 balls at No. 9, which included three fours and a six, helping to ease the pressure off Monank at the other end. Monank eventually brought up his half-century off 80 balls with a single driven through cover in the 39th over. But Hutchinson fell in the 40th, skying a drive off Pokana trying to hit with the wind at his back but instead found Siaka at long-off. However, the pair added 48 together for the eighth wicket, USA’s biggest stand of the day and helped put them in a position that was defendable in the end.
Monank stretched the innings out as patiently as possible before trying to attack in the 46th. After surviving a close shave at long-off on the first ball of the over, he picked out Toka on the cover boundary with a lofted drive that carried to the fielder courtesy of a strong wind to end his knock at 66 off 99 balls. Jessy Singh then fell at the start of the 49th, bowled after missing a heave across the line to Kila.
Both Pokana and Kila repeated their wicket haul from the opening day of the tri-series with each claiming three scalps. Pokana ended with 3 for 44 in his 10 overs while Kila returned 3 for 27 in 9.1 overs. Siaka bowled a solid spell to finish with figures of 2 for 33 in 10. Vanua ended with 1 for 17 in five and Soper 1 for 6 in two overs.
USA takes on Namibia on Friday in the host side’s final match of the tri-series. Papua New Guinea now has two days off before playing Namibia in a pair of ODIs on back-to-back days on Sunday and Monday.