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Hat-trick hero Vagi-Morea steals the show as PNG, Japan go two from two

Ahat-trick and five-wicket haul from Papua New Guinea quick Kabua Vagi-Morea helped Papua New Guinea to a second successive win at the East-Asia Pacific Final for T20 World Cup 2024, while Japan proved too strong for Vanuatu to also remain undefeated.

Vagi-Morea needed no help in his efforts, with four bowled dismissals and an lbw to finish with 5/9 from four overs, the best figures by a Papua New Guinea bowler in men`s T20Is. After a wicket in his first over, the left-armer claimed the hat-trick in his second over, before removing Miggy Podosky for number five in his third.

At 3/5 inside five overs the Philippineschase of 163 was almost over before it began, eventually bowled out for 45 for a 117-run win, though Daniel Smiths side did enjoy their share of highlights early in Papua New Guinea`s innings.

Taking the new ball in the Powerplay, 16-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner Kepler Lukies showed a shrewdness beyond his years, dismissing arguably the best batter at the tournament, PNG captain Assad Vala, lbw for just one. The youngest player at the event also claimed Charles Amini, finishing with 2/17 from four overs.

The Philippines led Papua New Guinea to 76/4 in 12 overs, but counter-attacks by Rega Siaka (31 on 43 balls) and Hiri Hiri (27 on 46 balls) gave the hosts the upper hand.

In the morning’s game, Japan broke away from the power play gap to beat Vanuatu by 21 points.

Vanuatu off-spinner Joshua Russ saved openers Lachlan Yamamoto-Lake and Alex Shirai-Putmore for a duck in the first half, but a mix-up between wickets saw Supun Navarasna (3) carried off by Ronald Tali to lose the wicket.

Skipper Kendell Kadwaki-Fleming (65-of-54) looked solid on 6/3, with promoted Ibrahim Takahashi, 20, joining in a crucial 48-point stand, and Sabaorish Ravichandran, 19, working with the captain for a 59-point partnership.

Kadowaki-Fleming scored early while grappling with the slow-moving Amini Park deck, but netted four sixes for the first time in half a century to seal his 60th goal against the Philippines on Saturday.

A second-half riot left Japan 131 stacked on defense, and a professional job on the field kept the ball out of reach of the target. In bowling, Ryan Drake replaced Kohei Kubota and eliminated Narin Nipiko (18), Jared Allan (4) and Junior Kartapau (7) to finish 3-over 3/16. He was joined by fast-footed colleagues Sakurano Thomas Leo (1/18) and Declan Suzuki-McCombe (1/16), but it was spin that undoubtedly choked the Vanuatu players, most notably Piyush Kumbale (2/23), who caught up after a two-wicket challenge on day one.

Vanuatu finished with 110/8 in 20 overs, and Japan started the tournament with two wins from two matches, along with Papua New Guinea.

Teams have a rest day on Monday followed by Tuesday.



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