Papua New Guinea reach semi-finals despite dramatic loss

·3-min read

Papua New Guinea reached the Twenty20 World Cup qualifying tournament semi-finals in Zimbabwe despite a dramatic last-ball Group B loss to Hong Kong on Thursday.

Netherlands comfortably beat Uganda in the same section to win the group while Papua New Guinea pipped Hong Kong and Uganda on net run rates to finish runners-up and survive.

In the semi-finals on Friday in southern city Bulawayo, the Dutch will face Group A runners-up the United States while Papua New Guinea take on Group A winners Zimbabwe.

The semi-final winners will join 14 other teams, including hosts and defending champions Australia, at the 2022 T20 World Cup from October 16.

"It was a dream come true to reach the last T20 World Cup and we hope to beat Zimbabwe and go to Australia," said Papua New Guinea captain Assad Vala.

"All of us enjoyed the wonderful experience of playing in the UAE and Oman last year and we want to enjoy that experience again.

"We accept Zimbabwe will be favourites as they have home advantage and are the only Test-playing nation among the semi-finalists, but who knows what may unfold."

After losing their first two group matches, Hong Kong snatched a two-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea thanks to a single from Shahid Wasif off the final ball of the last over.

Papua New Guinea, seeking a second successive T20 World Cup appearance, posted 185-7 in 20 overs with veteran Tony Ura striking 83 off just 33 balls, including eight sixes and four fours.

Charles Amini (37) and Lega Siaka (21) were the best of the other Papua New Guinean batsmen while Ehsan Khan (3-20) was the most successful Hong Kong bowler.

- Tense run chase -

A tense Hong Kong run chase saw them reach 179-7 with one over remaining and needing seven more runs to snatch victory.

A single and a four from Scott McKechnie and a bye levelled the scores with three balls remaining, but the next two deliveries yielded no further runs.

Wasif needed one run to win the match and that is what he achieved, knocking a delivery from Semo Kamea to midwicket.

But losers Papua New Guinea scraped into the semi-finals with a -0.419 net run rate, ahead of Hong Kong (-0.898) and Uganda (-1.996).

Uganda began the final round of group matches in second spot, but proved no match for the Netherlands and lost by 97 runs.

A 121-run third-wicket partnership between Tom Cooper (81) and Max O'Dowd (73) helped the Dutch post 187-3 in their alloted overs.

The Ugandan reply began disastrously and they were 7-4 after just 2.3 overs before crawling to 90-9 with Riazat Ali Shah (19) top scoring. Fred Klaassen (5-19) was the Dutch destroyer in chief.

In Group A, Zimbabwe (185-6) maintained a perfect record by beating the USA (139-8) by 46 runs in a match to decide first place.

Sikandar Raza was the Zimbabwe batting star, with his 82 off 40 balls including five sixes and seven fours, while Sean Williams (37) and Regis Chakabva (31) were also in good form.

USA opener Steven Taylor struck a 46 laced with a six and five fours, taking his total from three group matches to 205 runs.

Wellington Masakadza, who captured four wickets for 11 runs in three overs, was the most successful Zimbabwean bowler.

A 44-run knock by Nick Greenwood earned Jersey, a tiny island between England and France, a 13-run victory over Singapore and third place.

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