Steven Taylor showed off his vintage power-hitting in a savage assault on the Papua New Guinea bowling attack to be named Player of the Match in USA's seven-wicket win over Papua New Guinea at Muscat, Oman.
File photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
Back in the opening batting slot that brought him so much success from 2012-2017, Steven Taylor showed off his vintage power-hitting in a savage assault on the Papua New Guinea bowling attack, registering USA’s fastest ODI half-century off just 31 balls on his way to 82 off 55 balls to spearhead USA’s chase of a target of 159 in a seven-wicket win over PNG at Al-Amerat Cricket Ground on Monday afternoon in Muscat, Oman. Taylor brought up his 12th
half-century in 50-over cricket for USA, and his second in ODIs, in a bruising display that eclipsed the previous USA ODI record for fastest fifty made by Nisarg Patel off 32 balls against Oman at Kathmandu in February 2020. Taylor’s blitz, which included seven fours and seven sixes, enabled USA to haul down a modest target with 21.4 overs to spare.
The win was set up by a disciplined USA bowling effort led by Nisarg Patel, who ripped apart the PNG middle order with 4 for 30 after PNG had chosen to bat first at the toss. USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar struck the first blow in the third over, getting Lega Siaka for 7 punching a length ball low to Nosthush Kenjige’s left at extra cover for a sharp catch tumbling forward to his left. Elmore Hutchinson replaced Netravalkar in the ninth and struck in his second over, beating Tony Ura for 5 on an attempted drive to knock back off stump. CJ Amini was the next to go for 4 in the 14th
, as his attempted back foot punch to Kenjige resulted in a thin edge behind well held by Monank Patel keeping wicket.
From 43 for 3, PNG captain Assad Vala teamed with Sese Bau for a 56-run partnership. The only chance during the stand came with Bau on 14 in the 19th
over at 68 for 3 when Karima Gore made a sharp stop at backward point but misfired his throw at the striker’s end with Bau stranded five yards out of his crease after being turned back by Vala. From there the pair rotated the strike with ease against Gore and the part-time offspin of Jaskaran Malhotra, who came into the attack after Taylor had to leave the field following his lone over in the 18th
when he began vomiting on the outfield grass shortly after completing his final delivery.
Bau threw away his wicket in the 28th
on 31, driving Nisarg to debutant Sushant Modani at long-on, who took a catch two yards inside the rope. Nisarg then capitalized on the breakthrough by continuing to whittle away at the middle order as Kiplin Doriga edged his second ball low to Malhotra at slip who took a superb shoestring catch. Vala had brought up a 66-ball half-century with a single off Nisarg in the 30th
, but then fell in Nisarg’s next over missing a flick across the line to a full ball on the pads. While replays showed some marginal doubt about whether the ball pitched outside leg stump or on the stumps, the umpire upheld Nisarg’s appeal to send Vala off for 61. Hiri Hiri was then bowled for 4 in the 36th
after missing a heave across the line to give Nisarg his fourth.
Netravalkar and Kenjige returned to clean up the tail. The USA captain teamed up with Monank for a highlight reel one-handed catch on an edge behind to dismiss Gaudi Toka for 18. Mild controversy ensued a short time later when Kenjige appeared to bowl Damien Ravu for 7 on the fourth ball of the 43rd
over, but the umpires conferred and claimed that the off-stump bail had fallen off by some other means. However, Kenjige ensured the sequence became irrelevant by knocking back Ravu’s middle stump on the very next ball. Kenjige then wrapped up the innings two balls into the 45th
inducing a simple return catch at chest height from Jason Kila for 10.
Aside from Nisarg’s 4 for 30, Kenjige ended with 3 for 22 in 6.2 overs to go along with his two catches. Netravalkar claimed 2 for 23 in seven overs while Hutchinson finished with 1 for 12 in six overs. Jessy Singh (0 for 25 in five), Malhotra (0 for 23 in six), Gore (0 for 13 in three) and Taylor (0 for 6 in one) all ended wicketless.
USA head coach J Arunkumar made his first big strategic move on his USA coaching debut, sending Taylor in to open the batting for USA. Taylor had batted at No. 3 from 2018 through 2020 for USA and, barring a memorable 96* in North Carolina against Canada in the T20 World Cup Regional Qualifier in September 2018, produced consistently underwhelming results. The move back to the top of the order, where Taylor had been a fixture for USA from 2012 to 2017, produced instant magic off the bat from the former USA captain.
Taylor punched his first boundary through the off side in the second over off Nosaina Pokana, then another off Damien Ravu in the third. Soon after he began struggling with leg cramps from dehydration in the fifth over and required a visit on field from USA’s physiotherapist. Forced to lean on his explosive power-hitting by default through an inability to run properly between the wickets, Taylor shredded left-arm spinner Jason Kila in the sixth over, smashing him for four sixes straight down the ground, including three in a row to start a 29-run over.
Taylor was dropped on 43 in the eighth over at long-off by Ravu off the offspin bowling of Bau, with the spilled chance dribbling over the rope for another boundary. Another flick off his pads behind square went to the rope for another four to bring up his half-century at the end of the eighth over. Two more straight sixes off Bau in the 10th
took USA to 82 for 0 after 10. Taylor’s innings – and a 107-run opening stand with Modani – came to an end when he pulled a length ball from Ravu to Vala in the ring at midwicket in the 17th
. By the time Taylor's innings finished, all but 12 of his 82 runs came in boundaries. Modani then fell in the following over to Amini’s legspin, punching back a waist height return catch for 24.
Similar to Taylor, Gajanand Singh also needed treatment on field for dehydration leg cramps less than six overs after his arrival in the middle and continued to struggle running between the wickets before he was ultimately run out for 9 after failing to make his ground on an attempted flick through square leg by Monank as Ravu’s relay to Doriga at the striker’s end beat Gajanand by a yard. Malhotra joined Monank for the final nine runs to knock off for victory. Monank leveled the scores with a boundary before a single through the ring took USA across the line as the right-hander finished unbeaten on 34. Malhotra ended on 3 not out.
Ravu ended with figures of 1 for 28 in five overs while Amini was PNG’s best bowler on the day and finished with 1 for 32 in 8.2 overs with a maiden. Kila struggled to bowl accurately well beyond the 29-run over at the hands of Taylor, bowling two no balls sailing over the head of Monank Patel in the 27th
over, and finished with 0 for 48 in four overs.
PNG returns to action on Tuesday when they take on Nepal at Al Amerat. USA has two days off before they play the second of two ODIs against PNG on Thursday in what will be a day/night match starting at 2:30 pm local time, 6:30 am ET in the USA.