ROUND 2 - Afternoon Report
FIJIAN BIG GUNS FIRE AND SAMOANS CLAIM FIRST VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT
The day 2 action at Faleata Gardens saw a confident Fiji team come out to take on New Caledonia in New Caledonia's opening match of the tournament.
Having defeated Samoa in day 1, Fiji came out of the dressing rooms and to the crease confident. Fiji, having won the toss and electing to bat proceeded to put on a powerhouse display of batting genius methodically and convincingly dismantling the New Caledonian bowling attack. The 50 over innings saw Fiji add runs to the board at a rapid rate and eventually returning to the dressing fale with 403 runs notched up on the scoreboard.
In making its way to its impressive 403 run batting stint, New Caledonia showed very early signs of unsettling Fiji by dismissing opening bat Iliesa Navatu McGoon for 2 runs in the third over and Sekuove Ravoka for 7 runs in the 7th over. However, the entry of Kida Jikoivanualevu into the action saw Fiji gain real composure and the Fiji run scoring machine go into overdrive. Jikoivanualevu and Fiji's captain, Iniasi Cakacaka, settled in at the crease and put on a 71 run partnership before Cakcaka was bowled by S. Kilama for 29 runs. Kida was eventually caught by Midraia off a bowl from Folituu for a well played 67 runs. Fiji's batting depth showed through its batting order with number 7 batsman Tupou Golati making an impressive 71 runs and top scoring for Fiji and Kitione Tavo at number 8 making 42 runs not out with two sixes to his name. Fiji eventually scored 336 runs off the bat with New Caledonia conceding 35 wides and 19 no balls.
New Caledonia, with what can only be described as a mountain to overcome, took to the pitch with the hope of making a close game of the huge run chase. However, the impressive Fijian bowling attack was always going to make the task ahead for the New Caledonian team a real challenge. New Caledonia, in the course of 16 overs, put 20 runs on the board before they were all dismissed by the highly charged Fijian team.
Best bowling figures for Fiji were by Sakaraia Lomani with 3 wickets for 2 runs.
On the adjacent Faleata west oval, a clash of two traditionally rivals, Samoa and Tonga, was expected to be a close encounter of the cricketing kind with both teams in it with a chance and the two teams did not disappoint.
Tonga won the toss and elected to bat. In another strong outing, Tonga took to the crease and steadily added runs to the score board finishing with 145 runs in 50 overs.
With an achievable run target of 145 to chase, Samoa took to the crease with the hope of taking the bat to the touring Tongan team and wielding supremacy in this encounter. Hopes for dominating their touring cousins however appeared to be dashed early when Samoa's top end batting line up again collapsed this time under the weight of a very well oiled Tongan bowling effort. The top 6 batsman in Samoa's batting line up were quickly dismissed for 32 runs leaving Samoa on the ropes and holding on for dear life.
A spirited come back however emerged down the order and the tail proceeded to wag the dog in what turned out to be a nail biter. Coming in at number 7, a shining knight appeared in dimming lights of Samoa's hopes in the form of Pritchard Pritchard. Pritchard breathed life back in to the struggling Samoan batting line up. In a contrasting display of patience and powerful shots, Pritchard sent loose bowls to the boundary and played safe defensive shots against the very accurate and disciplined Tongan attack. Wickets however continued to fall on the opposite side of the crease from Pritchard and the Samoan team and the supporters on site held their breath as Samoa inched its way to the finishing line finally scoring 146 runs in the 37th over on its last wicket. The final 9th wicket partnership between Pritchard and Lautala Fuimaono put on a gutsy 32 run partnership to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and earn Pritchard the honour of securing this victory for his team and a well earnt sportman's banana smoothie for his efforts.
Pritchard Pritchard put on an impressive 47 runs not out to take Samoa home against a disappointed but very admirable Tongan team.