Poreporena Cricket Club took out the 2019 Port Moresby Cricket Association Premiership Title last Saturday in a way that will long be remembered as perhaps one of the best heroic performances by two of Papua New Guinea’s talented and experienced cricketers on opposing sides. It had the thrills and skills of what a grand final should be and it was a game were the most experienced lived up to their name.
Poreporena were first to “pad up” in sunny conditions and an outfield that promised more runs than wickets. But their early overs proved quite the opposite as United grabbed three wickets in quick succession leaving Poreporena reeling at 3 wickets for 19 runs within the first 5 of the allotted 20 overs.
Enter Vani Morea.
The former opening batsman for Papua New Guinea’s Barramundis, settled in quickly and it wasn’t long before he started dispatching the young United bowlers all over the park.
United skipper Mahuru Dai and elder brother Kohu slowed the run rate down to just below 9 an over but by then it was too late to stop the batting maestro nicknamed “Venus”. The boundaries flooded with Morea at the crease, driving, pulling and hooking – the kind of shots that can only been seen in a cricketing manual.
Morea isn’t exactly solidly built and at first sight, you wouldn’t think he would be the kind of player to smack boundaries at will. But looks can be deceiving and Morea proved exactly that with three glorious sixes over long on and mid-wicket. In fact, the sixes towards mid-on seemed to be in the air for eternity it almost seemed that the red leather was heading towards a planet that matched the hitter’s nickname.
By the 20th and final over, Poreporena had amassed 173 runs at the loss of 5 wickets with Morea on 83.
This left United a target of 174 with a required run-rate of 8.7 an over. A very challenging target but nonetheless do-able.
United’s top order didn’t fare well either much the same as the opposition losing three wickets in the first three overs – all at the hands of out of favor Barammundi Alei Nao. Nao was superb with the ball claiming the first three wickets including that of young promising batsman Anthony Vare.
Enter United skipper Mahuru Dai.
Despite losing early wickets, United relied on their “never say Dai” skipper who has time and again lived up to expectations when it counts the most.
Dai started off slowly picking up the singles and attacking anything short.
By the 10th over United still had a grip on the Cup with Dai becoming more aggressive by the ball with towering sixes and fours around the park. United gradually gained more confidence with a firm grip on the Cup.
There’s a saying “experience counts in big matches” and that became more evident as Dai gradually dislodged at will without much panic despite the rowdy United crowd cheering Dai on to continue his onslaught.
By the 18th over, Dai had reached a fine century – one that many in the crowd will attest as one of the best centuries ever to be scored in a Port Moresby Cricket sanctioned grand final. The shots, the patience, the skill and of course the mounting pressure in a single innings are reasons why Dai’s century will be in the minds of those who were fortunate enough to witness his innings.
It came down to the last over with United needing a “getable” 16 of the last over, particularly with Dai still at the crease.
United were still in it to win it.
But Poreporena captain and former Baramundi skipper Jack Vare-Kevere, who with the ball was a victim of Dai’s onslaught, showed great maturity and patience rotating his bowlers round and finally handing the last over to the in-form Nao.
Dai finally succumbed to Nao’s third delivery attempting to fly one over mid-wicket only to fall short of the boundary and in the hands of Morea.
It was a great spectacle by both teams and experienced players like Morea, Dai, Kevere and Nao showed their class in a truly memorable grand final.
The irony of it all is that two teams have both had little practice all season due to shortage and lack of proper training facilities.
It’s a serious situation that requires urgent attention if cricket is to continue succeeding at both the local and international level. And perhaps the association should consider returning the cricket season to the Australian summer season so that there can be more bums on seats and to avoid clashes with other sporting code seasons. Cricket truly needs the support of the public.