Papua New Guinea 102-4 (B Tau 30, KE Bryce 1 for 8) beat Scotland 101-5 (KE Bryce 45, S Jimmy 2 for 16) by six wickets
Scotland’s hopes of T20 World Cup qualification suffered a major blow as a six-wicket defeat to Papua New Guinea at Lochlands put their Group A campaign in the balance. Despite a battling performance from captain Kathryn Bryce – including the highest individual score of the tournament thus far – a fine run-a-ball innings of 30 from Brenda Tau marshalled a well-judged chase from PNG which was completed with three balls to spare.
Although breezy sunshine greeted the players as they arrived at Arbroath for the 10am start, the pitch still retained much of the moisture of the day before. The toss was going to be crucial, and after Kaia Arua called correctly she had little hesitation in asking Scotland to bat first. Sarah Bryce, off the mark with a stylish pull for four, stretched at a wide to be caught behind off the third ball of the innings; with one of Scotland’s form players already back in the pavilion, it struck a blow which would ultimately prove costly.
Kathryn Bryce joined Lorna Jack in the middle, and the two settled quickly to take the score to 25 for 1 after four. Jack, in fine form herself of late, looked full of confidence again, using width from Vicky Ara’a to dab to third man for 2 before swatting Natasha Ambo’s full toss to the boundary. The introduction of Sibona Jimmy brought seven from three balls as the spinner struggled to find her length, but the final ball of the over brought PNG an unexpected bonus as Jack (14) punted a short one straight to Arua at cover. From its promising start, the fifth over ended with Scotland 32 for 2.
Their innings would never really recover. A combination of disciplined bowling and the sticky, low pitch kept a check on the scoring as a succession of Scottish batters tried to break the shackles. Becky Glen never looked comfortable, taking 13 balls to get to 4 before being bowled by Jimmy, while Priyanaz Chatterji (5) fell four overs later after offering a sharp return catch to Konio Oala. Rachel Hawkins, entering the fray at 56 for 4, batted well in supporting Bryce, but with their shots often finding fielders, progress came predominantly in singles. Bryce (45) was bowled by Naoani Vare in the nineteenth as she tried to force the pace, but the damage was done. At the halfway point, Scotland’s total of 101 for 5 looked well below par.
That much-fancied Thailand had posted only 99 for 6 batting first in the simultaneous match against Namibia at Forthill added an interesting context to Scotland’s performance, but all would now ride on the hosts’ performance with the ball. Kathryn Bryce, her sister Sarah standing up to the stumps once again, began with a maiden, but PNG got their chase up and running with a top-edged four in the third over. The fifth brought the breakthrough Scotland needed as Priyanaz Chatterji held on to a fine two-handed diving catch at midwicket to get rid of Naoani Vare (6), but the sixth saw PNG recover through three boundaries from Brenda Tau – including a free-hit scoop over the wicketkeeper – to take the score to 32 for 1.
The introduction of Katherine Fraser in the eighth brought Scotland back into things as a clever piece of bowling saw PNG lose their second. After watching Jimmy (12) slog-sweep her first ball for two, Fraser responded by taking all the pace off her second, inducing a top-edge to Chatterji at mid-off. Bowling in tandem with Abtaha Maqsood, the two kept the game in the balance, their tight lines keeping PNG to 54 for 2 after twelve. Eight runs came from the next to relieve the pressure again, however, and although the wicket of Tau (30) was followed by that of Tanya Ruma, run out for 25 after looking for a non-existent single, PNG were in the driving seat. Just enough boundaries came to re-energise the batting side and deflate the fielders, and when Kaia Arua (10*) worked Chatterji off her legs for another four in the eighteenth, the target had been reduced to single figures. A nudge into the covers from the PNG skipper duly confirmed her side’s win in the final over to spark celebrations amongst their entourage which carried an added poignancy after the death last month of team-mate Kopi John, for whom the side wore black arm-bands.
For Scotland, Tuesday’s match with favourites Bangladesh now becomes a must-win encounter.
“We were below par at the halfway stage and we knew we were going to have to bowl really well to defend that total,” said Kathryn Bryce. “I don’t think we were at our best with the ball and we didn’t execute all our skills and we gave away a few too many runs which cost us in the end.
“[The pitch] was a bit difficult in that we didn’t know how it was going to play early on and it was a bit tougher early in the morning, but if we’d played our best game then we probably should have come out on top. We didn’t do that today.
“We’ll reflect on this game this evening after we’ve had a chance to think about it for a bit and we just need to keep looking forward in the competition. We’re still in with a chance. We know we’ll need to play our best game of cricket [against Bangladesh], but now we’ll just try and reset ready for Tuesday.”