Papua New Guinea secure victory at last after outplaying UAE in World Cup League 2

Six wicket win for PNG in Dubai

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For the first time in 1,057 days and 18 games, Papua New Guinea were able to celebrate victory in a one-day international, after they outplayed UAE in Dubai.

Alei Nao was named player of the match after his four-wicket burst with the new ball laid the platform for their six-wicket win in the Cricket World Cup League 2.

It was a first win, in their 15th game in a competition that forms part of the qualifying process for the 2023 World Cup in India. It was also their first of any description in the format since they beat United States in Namibia in April 2019.

Assad Vala, their captain, scored the winning runs as the tourists hauled in their target of 148 with almost 14 overs to spare.

“I’m really happy because we played some really good cricket over the past two games,” said Vala, who top scored with 68 not out for PNG.

“It has been a long time, 14 games [in the World Cup League 2] to get the win, but we are really happy. It doesn’t matter how we got our first win, but now we have and we will take that.”

It was the second time in as many days that UAE’s top order had succumbed after having first use of the pitch at Dubai International Stadium.

Whereas they had managed to defend the 168 they had posted a day earlier in a thrilling win over Nepal, this time the 147 they made never threatened to be enough.

They only reached that much thanks to a courageous rearguard from Rohan Mustafa. The all-rounder made 88 before he was caught off the final ball of the innings.

It was full of intelligence, most notably during a stand for the last wicket worth 70 with Zahoor Khan. Zahoor, the No 11, contributed a mere two to the partnership.

Ahmed Raza, the UAE captain, said Mustafa had set an example his fellow batters need to follow.

“There were not enough runs to defend, and it is going to be very rare for a team to defend 160-odd for two days on the trot,” Raza said.

“I feel like a broken record in that I keep going on about the batting. I still don’t think there was anything in the wicket. [PNG] bowled well, they bowled the right channel, but we have to find a way to score runs.

“Rohan showed that. He proved it wasn’t a very hard wicket to bat on, it was just about application. Then you can express yourself later on in the innings.”

Earlier on, Alei Nao had been rewarded for his accuracy with the new ball, and he eventually finished with four for 27 from the 10 overs he sent down.

“It is good to come back into the team and do well after missing the first game of the series [which PNG had lost to UAE],” Nao said.

“I have had lots of injury problems over the past four years, but today I was able to show what I could do.”

Updated: March 19, 2022, 1:53 PM