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Port Vila T20 Club Championship Round 5: Tafea Dominance, Nipiko's 150, and the Vira's Shine for Sharks



In a dramatic conclusion to the first round of fixtures, Tafea Cricket Club edged out North Efate Bush Pigs by 5 wickets, solidifying their dominance at the top of the table. This match, the highlight of the round, always promised to be a nail-biter, but it was Tafea had other ideas.


Batting first, North Efate Bush Pigs posted 110/6 in 20 overs. Nick Venables anchored the innings with a steady 36 off 51 balls, while Aaron Strid's late surge with 21 not out off 17 balls added crucial runs to the score. However it was Tafea's bowlers who were in top form, with Darren Wotu's 2/13 and Rodrick Lekai's 2/21 containing the Bush Pigs' lineup effectively.


Tafea's chase was nothing short of thrilling with national player Williamsing Nalisa setting a blistering pace with 38 off 28 balls, but it was Wamejo Wotu's unbeaten 31 off 17 balls that clinched the victory in 15.2 overs. Jack McAlister's valiant 3/32 gave North Efate a glimmer of hope, but Tafea's resilience proved insurmountable.


The victory not only reaffirmed Tafea's status as the team to beat but also highlighted the critical roles played by key players at pivotal moments with the likes of Wamejo Wotu, who currently leads the MVP standings, playing a pivotal role in this victory, further solidifying his position at the top, with Ronald Tari closely trailing before this game.


For the Bush Pigs, the innings was marked by a cautious start and early wickets. Venables' stability at the crease was commendable, but the lack of substantial partnerships hindered their ability to set a more challenging target. Strid’s late onslaught added some respectability to the score, but it was evident they fell short of a defendable total.


In contrast, Tafea Sandalwood’s chase was characterized by aggression and composure. Nalisa’s innings was instrumental in setting the tempo, and Wotu’s calm finish under pressure was crucial in sealing the win.


In the second match of the round, the Mighty Saints asserted their dominance over the Tusker Panthers with a commanding 66-run victory. The return of superstar international, Nalin Nipiko, set the tide for the day as his batting masterclass was instrumental in the Saints' triumph.


Opting to bat first, the Mighty Saints posted an imposing total of 220/1 in their 20 overs with Nipiko the star of the innings, smashing an unbeaten 150 runs off just 67 deliveries. His innings, peppered with 14 boundaries and 10 sixes, left the Panthers' bowlers in disarray. Complementing Nipiko's explosive performance was captain MacMillan Markia, who scored a steady 53 not out off 40 balls, including four boundaries and two sixes. The partnership between Nipiko and Markia was formidable, guiding the Saints to a mammoth total with ease. The only wicket to fall was that of SM Meltetake, who was run out off the bowling of Daniel Nathaniel by Jamie Kaiaha for 8.


Tusker Panthers' bowlers found it challenging to contain the onslaught. Suria Rajen and Tony Tamata were particularly expensive, conceding 45 and 40 runs respectively in their four-over spells. Daniel Nathaniel was the only bowler to secure a wicket, ending with figures of 1/17 off his two overs.


In their chase, the Tusker Panthers managed 154/3 in their 20 overs. Christopher Nasak top-scored with a valiant 54 off 42 balls, including six boundaries and two sixes. However, his efforts were not enough to steer the Panthers close to the target. Key contributions came from Christopher Laffan, who remained unbeaten on 47 off 36 balls, and Tony Tamata, who scored 30 off 23 balls. Despite these efforts, the Panthers struggled to keep up with the required run rate, allowing the Saints to secure the win.


The Mighty Saints' bowling attack was both disciplined and effective. Simpson Obed was particularly impressive, with figures of 1/17 off his 4 overs, while Chad Natuoivi contributed with 1/9 off his 2 overs. Mac Millan Markia and Nalin Nipiko also played pivotal roles with the ball, maintaining economical spells and taking crucial wickets along the way.


In the final match of the round, the Paama Sharks emerged victorious over the Splashe Mele Bulls, securing a commanding 48-run win with The Sharks displaying an all-around performance, while the Bulls struggled to find their footing.


The Sharks, opting to bat first, posted a competitive total of 154 for 6 in their allotted 20 overs. The innings was anchored by a sensational knock from Jamal Vira, who remained unbeaten on 61 off just 25 deliveries, including 3 fours and 4 sixes. Vira's explosive batting propelled the Sharks to a defendable score after a shaky start. Early in the innings, CTW Kendrick provided a brisk start with 27 off 16 balls, but the team soon found themselves in trouble at 27 for 1. Rashid Bangalulu's tight bowling further compounded their woes, claiming the key wickets of DH Frank and Tevita Kolopa. However, Vira, alongside Obed Yosef, staged a remarkable recovery, adding vital runs in the death overs.


Rashid Bangalulu was the standout bowler for the Bulls, taking 3 wickets for 18 runs in his 3 overs. Amjed Bangalulu chipped in with 1 wicket for 27 runs in his 4-over spell, while Karl Samson was economical, conceding just 20 runs and picking up 2 wickets in his 4 overs.

Chasing 155, the Bulls' innings never gained momentum as they were bundled out for 106 in just 15 overs.


The lone resistance came again from Rashid Bangalulu, who scored a valiant 66 off 34 balls, featuring 5 fours and 2 sixes. Despite his efforts, the rest of the batting lineup crumbled under the Sharks' relentless bowling attack. Vanessa Vira led the charge with the ball, claiming 3 wickets for just 11 runs in her 4-over spell. She was ably supported by Obed Yosef and Stephane Sandy, who picked up 2 wickets each, dismantling the Bulls' middle and lower order.


At the halfway point of the season, Tafea Cricket Club's domination continues with a perfect record, winning all their matches and setting a high bar for the rest of the competition. North Efate Bush Pigs have followed in second place, showing strong form with three wins out of five games with the Mighty Saints also performing well, securing two victories from their four matches.


In contrast, the Paama Sharks, Tusker Panthers, and Splashe Mele Bulls have struggled, each managing only one win.


Standings after Round 5:

Team

Pld

W

L

Drw

T

Abd

Bye

Pts

NRR

Tafea CC

5

5

0

0

0

0

0

10

+3.665

North Efate Bush Pigs

5

3

1

0

0

1

0

7

+2.608

Mighty Saints

4

2

1

0

0

1

0

5

+1.872

Paama Sharks

4

1

3

0

0

0

0

2

-1.564

Tusker Panthers

5

1

4

0

0

0

0

2

-2.555

Splashe Mele Bulls

5

1

4

0

0

0

0

2

-2.899


MVP Race Standings

Rank

Player

Team

Pld

Batting

Bowling

Fielding

Total

1

Wamejo Wotu

Tafea Sandalwood

5

28.59

16.28

6.13

51.01

2

Ronald Tari

North Efate Bush Pigs

4

23.03

8.00

2.75

33.79

3

Williamsing Nalisa

Tafea Sandalwood

5

19.02

12.03

2.55

33.61

4

Curran Tor William Kendrick

Paama Sharks

4

29.73

3.03

0.00

32.76

5

Jamal Vira

Paama Sharks

3

24.47

1.28

1.35

27.11


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