Papua New Guinea qualified for their first-ever ICC event on Sunday after beating Kenya by 45 runs in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai. The win ensured PNG the top spot in group A and helped seal a direct entry into next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
The manner in which PNG went about their business had their fans at the edge of their seats. Kenya captain Shem Ngoche won the toss, and at first the decision to make PNG bat first seemed to be spot on. The Kenya bowlers wreaked havoc as PNG found themselves tottering at 19 for six in four overs.
All seemed lost for PNG and it would have been, had it not been for a resilient 77-run seventh-wicket partnership Norman Vanua and Sese Bau. The stand bailed them out of trouble and helped them post a competitive 118 runs in 18.3 overs.
Coming in at eight, Vanua scored a brilliant 54 runs in 48 balls that included two sixes and three fours. Bau partnered Vanua exceedingly well and occupied the crease for 33 balls, scoring 17 valuable runs.
For Kenya, Emmanuel Bundi took four wickets while giving away 18 runs.
During the chase Vanua returned to haunt the Kenyans once again, claiming two wickets in his three overs. Nosaina Pokana and Assad Vala took three wickets each to script a memorable win for PNG.
Wicket-keeper batsman Irfan Karim top-scored for Kenya, scoring 29 runs off 22 deliveries.
PNG's qualification means that the Netherlands will have to make their way through the play-offs in order to qualify for the event. From group B, Ireland also got direct entry into the tournament after topping their group.
The cricketing world reacted on Twitter and expressed happiness at cricket's global expansion. PNG vice-captain Charles Amini, Indian Ravichandran Ashwin, Caribbean legend Ian Bishop, and JP Duminy took to Twitter to congratulate the nation.