Papua New Guinea cricket team walking on field. Papua New Guinea cricket team walking on field.

In-form West Indies look to start on a high against PNG

After missing out on the qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India, two-time T20I champions West Indies will be kicking off the Caribbean leg of the 2024 T20 World Cup as they come up against Papua New Guinea in Providence. The last two T20 World Cup editions have been horrible for the Windies as they were knocked out from the Super 12s with just one win in five games in 2021 and were not even able to qualify for the Super 12s in 2022. 

Having defeated South Africa emphatically in the T20 series leading up to the World Cup, and a win against Australia in the warm-ups, the Windies will be hoping to start strong against a not-so-threatening PNG side. This is the perfect opportunity for the co-hosts to give their net run rate an early boost. 

PNG will be making their second appearance at the World Cup having first featured in the 2021 edition. They will be hoping to cause some upsets and tarnish the hopes of other teams with a side fairly experienced as 10 of their squad members have already played in the 2021 T20 World Cup. Charles Amini is the only front-line spinner in a pace-dominated PNG side with veteran batters like Assad Vala and Tony Ura capable of turning it on.

The home side is expected to give Johnson Charles and Brandon King the responsibility to open the innings as they both had an excellent outing against South Africa. Powell, Pooran, Hetmyer, and Rutherford will be forming the middle order while Russel and Akeal Hossein are likely to be the allrounders. The Windies will be having a formidable pace attack in Alzarri and Shamar Joseph.

PNG will be relying highly on their T20I top scorer Ura, along with Vala and Amini. Their highest wicket-taker, Norman Vanua, will be leading the bowling attack side by side with John Kariko and Chad Soper.

Providence has been a chasing-friendly venue with an average score of just 168 batting first since 2022. In the 24 T20 games played at this venue since 2022, teams have opted to field first on 16 occasions however, the stats do not bias towards chasing as teams batting first have won 11 times while chasing teams have managed to pull off a win on 12 occasions. Similar to other venues in the Caribbean, spinners play a bigger role at the Providence with an overall economy of 6.92. Not to say that none of this would matter if the heavens open up as thunderstorms and showers are predicted early in the day. 

We are looking forward to Andre Russell being a significant part of our World Cup and hopefully, he can be a three-time World Cup champion after this.” West Indies skipper Rovman Powell expects a big contribution from the veteran Andre Russell. “That is no surprise to see Andre automatically slot into our team. He comes with a wealth of experience and the good thing is he comes with additional confidence on the back of good performances in the IPL.” He added. 

PNG captain Assad Vala believes his team is not just participating to make up the numbers but to strive for victory. “It means a lot to be playing amongst the best 20 teams in the world. We are going into games trying to win. We just don’t want to go out there and play for the sake of playing. We are here to play the best cricket we can and the brand of cricket we know we can play.”