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Ifira Blackbird Women stumbles as Splashe Mele Bulls Women starts of campaign with a win

Gillian Chilia starred with the Bat for the Splashe Mele Bulls

Round two of the Port Vila Womens T20 Championship got underway this weekend as Tafea Cricket Club faced Splashe Mele Bulls at Independence Park and Ifira Blackbird faced North Efate Bushpigs at the Vanuatu Cricket Grounds.

In the match between Tafea Cricket Club and Splashe Mele Bulls, Tafea, opting to bat first, faced early setbacks as the Splashe Mele Bulls' bowling attack struck regularly. Numa Nalissa started with promise, scoring 17 off 19 balls, including three boundaries, before being dismissed by Milana Mansale. The early loss of Shalyn Vakessa for 1 and Sarah Navaika for 3, both falling cheaply, put Tafea on the back foot.

KW Wotu tried to steady the ship with an 8 off 9 balls, but her dismissal by Augustine Mansale further dented the batting side’s prospects. Gisel Lekai then played a crucial anchoring role, remaining not out with a patient 21 off 34 balls. Despite the regular fall of wickets around her, including L Nalisa (16 off 27) and Marceline Thompson (6 off 5), Lekai held the innings together.

Tisiana Lekai contributed 9 off 13 balls before falling to Milana Mansale, who was instrumental in keeping the scoring in check with her 3 for 11 spell. Augustine Mansale also chipped in with two wickets, dismissing both Navaika and Nalisa, endiong with 2 for 5 which further stifled the run flow. Extras played a significant role, with 29 runs coming from wides and no-balls, allowing Tafea to reach a total of 110 for 7 in their 20 overs.

Chasing 111, the Splashe Mele Bulls got off to a flying start with AT Chilia and Gillian Chilia leading the charge. AT Chilia played a blistering knock, scoring 35 off 24 balls, including six boundaries. Her aggressive approach set the tone for the chase before she was dismissed by KW Wotu with the score at 65.

Gillian Chilia continued the momentum, playing a steady yet aggressive innings of 42 not out off 31 balls, striking four boundaries. She was well supported by Joy Mansale, who contributed 6 off 8 balls before falling to Numa Nalissa. Elizabeth Soromon then joined Chilia and ensured there were no further hiccups, scoring 13 off 10 balls.

The Bulls' chase was characterized by their aggressive intent and efficient running between the wickets. They reached the target comfortably in just 13 overs, scoring 111 for 2 at a run rate of 8.54.

Melanie Shem starred for the Bushpigs Women as they defeated Ifira Blackbird

In the second match of round two, the North Efate Bush Pigs Women secured a narrow five-wicket victory over the Ifira Black Birds Women in a low-scoring encounter. The Black Birds’ innings got off to a disastrous start with the early dismissal of Leisau Andrew, bowled by Melanie Shem for a duck on the very first ball. This set the tone for a challenging innings, with captain Lising Enoch and Gabby Kaltonga also falling cheaply. Enoch managed 5 runs off 11 balls before being bowled by Iso Jimmy Jimmy, while Kaltonga, like Andrew, was dismissed for a duck by Shem.

Qwenneth Joseph added to the woes, being caught and bowled by Lisa Solomon for zero, leaving the Black Birds reeling at 13 for 4. Sue Yalin and RN Nako attempted to stabilize the innings but were dismissed for 4 and 3 runs, respectively. The lower order offered minimal resistance, with Ethel Tame's run out after scoring 4 being the last notable contribution. Despite the early collapse, extras significantly bolstered the Black Birds’ total, contributing a whopping 36 runs, predominantly from wides.

Melanie Shem was the pick of the bowlers for the Bush Pigs, claiming 2 for 12 in her two overs, supported by Elisa Kakor, Iso Jimmy Jimmy, Anais Stephen, Lisa Solomon, and Salinda Reve, each contributing with a wicket. The Black Birds concluded their innings at 61 for 7 in 12 overs, a total that seemed inadequate but competitive given the conditions.

Chasing 62, the Bush Pigs' innings mirrored the Black Birds’ early struggles. Lisa Solomon was the first to fall, bowled by RN Nako for 2. Iso Jimmy Jimmy managed 5 runs before being caught by RV Andrew off the bowling of Ethel Tame. Elisa Kakor and Salinda Reve tried to anchor the innings but were both dismissed, Kakor for 7 off 19 balls by Sue Yalin and Reve for 8 off 15 balls by captain Lising Enoch.

The chase seemed precarious at 36 for 5 when Betty Marango was stumped for 1 off Ethel Tame, but captain Melanie Shem steadied the ship. Shem's unbeaten 10 off 16 balls, alongside a hefty contribution of 22 extras, guided the Bush Pigs to victory. The disciplined bowling from the Black Birds, particularly from Ethel Tame who took 2 for 3 in her single over, wasn’t enough to defend the low total.

Melanie Shem’s 2 for 12 with the ball and an unbeaten 10 with the bat were crucial in both innings. The match saw an extraordinary number of extras, with the Black Birds conceding 33 wides and 2 no-balls, which significantly impacted the outcome. Tame’s 2 for 3 nearly turned the tide for the Black Birds, showcasing her ability to perform under pressure. Contributions from every bowler ensured the Black Birds never gained momentum, reflecting a cohesive bowling unit.

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