Papua New Guinea are all set to play their first major global tournament, as they take on Oman in the opening clash of the men’s T20 World Cup today. The Barramundis, as the spirited Pacific Islanders are known as, will also face Scotland and Bangladesh as they bid to enter the Super 12 stage. As we await the action, here is a look at a few numbers and milestones from Papua New Guinea’s international T20 journey so far.
Overall T20I record
Papua New Guinea arrived on the T20I scene by winning their very first match – they beat Ireland by two wickets in Belfast at the T20 World Cup Qualifier in 2015. They have played 28 T20Is till date, of which they have won 17 and lost ten. Of these 17 wins, five have come against Vanuatu, two each against Ireland, Namibia, and Samoa, and one each against Bermuda, Kenya, Nepal, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Singapore.
Impressive against the Irish
The Barramundis have a commendable T20I record against Ireland, reading two wins and as many losses. As mentioned above, they beat Ireland in their own backyard in their inaugural T20I in 2015, chasing down 124 thanks to Norman Vanua’s unbeaten 28 in ten balls. In 2015-16 they lost a three-match series to Ireland in Townsville by 2-1, successfully defending a total of 116/8 to win the third match by 11 runs.
On a winning streak in 2019
The year 2019 featured a bountiful T20I run for Papua New Guinea. They went undefeated in their first 11 matches, with only a no-result denying them a clear streak. Nevertheless, they did achieve eight wins on the trot, and the streak was broken only by a narrow four-run loss to Scotland at the T20 World Cup Qualifier. They won six out of eight matches at the Qualifier and ended the year with 14 wins from 17 matches.
Highest and lowest totals
Papua New Guinea have breached the 200-run mark twice so far, both times against the Philippines on consecutive days at the East Asia-Pacific Region Final in Port Moresby in 2018-19. They first amassed 216/4 en route to a 133-run win (their biggest in T20Is), following it up with 205/4 in a match that ultimately ended in a no-result. On the other hand, their lowest total is 92/9 against Ireland in Townsville in 2015-16.
Most runs and wickets
Tony Ura is Papua New Guinea’s most prolific T20I batter, having scored 754 runs in 25 matches at 37.70, which is the 11th highest average of all time assuming a minimum of 20 innings. This tally includes a century and five fifties, and his strike rate is an excellent 141.46. On the bowling front, Vanua leads the way with 35 wickets in 27 matches at an average of 14.42 and an economy rate of 6.18, including a five-wicket haul.
Centuries, five-wicket hauls, and hat-tricks
Ura is Papua New Guinea’s only T20I centurion, courtesy his unbeaten 107 off 60 balls while opening in the aforesaid no-result match against the Philippines in 2018-19. There have been two instances of five-wicket hauls – 5/15 by Damien Ravu and 5/17 by Vanua, both against Vanuatu at the Pacific Games in Apia in 2019. Vanua has also taken a hat-trick, against Bermuda at the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai in 2019-20.
A stunning comeback against Kenya
The Qualifier in 2019-20 saw the Barramundis conjure one of the most sensational T20I wins. They crashed to 19/6 after four overs, before Vanua (54) helped propel the total to 118. Later, captain Assad Vala (3/7) and Nosaina Pokana (3/21) starred with the ball as Kenya were skittled for 73. This win enabled PNG to directly qualify for the T20 World Cup (they finished the tournament as runners-up to the Netherlands).
Captain and ever-present
The only player to have played all 28 T20Is so far for Papua New Guinea is Vala, who has also captained the team in 23 of these matches, starting off with the win against Ireland at Townsville (Jack Vare was the captain in the Barramundis’ first five T20Is). The skipper has scored 516 runs and taken 22 wickets with his off-spin, and the Barramundis have grown to become a T20I force to reckon with under his leadership.
Other notable performances
A day before his 5/17 against Vanuatu in 2019, Vanua hit a blitzkrieg 47 from 12 balls as opener against the same opposition in Apia. This innings featured seven sixes, and the strike rate of 391.66 is the second highest for a T20I innings of at least 25 runs. Later in the year, Ura (71) and Vala (48) notched Papua New Guinea’s only century stand in T20Is so far, adding 125 for the first wicket against Namibia at the Qualifier.