Windies survive PNG scare to win T20 World Cup opener

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024, Group C, Guyana

Papua New Guinea 136-8 (20 overs): Bau 50 (43), Russell 2-19

West Indies 137-5 (19 overs): Chase 42* (27), Vala 2-28

West Indies win by five wickets


Co-hosts West Indies survived a scare to start their Men's T20 World Cup campaign with a five-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea in Guyana.

They needed 37 to win off the final 19 balls, but the two-time champions won with six balls to spare.

Roston Chase top-scored, hitting an unbeaten 42, as his 40-run partnership with Andre Russell got them over the line.

PNG fell to 7-2 in the third over of their innings when opener Tony Ura and Lega Siaka's expressive batting failed to pay off.

Opener and captain Assad Vala added 21, with Sese Bau then adding 50 off 43 balls before being bowled by Alzarri Joseph to leave PNG 98-6.

Wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga added 27 not out to haul them up to 136-8.

Russell and Joseph claimed two wickets apiece, with Akeal Hosein, Romario Shepherd and Gudakesh Motie all taking one.

In response, West Indies opener Johnson Charles was trapped lbw by Alei Nao for a golden duck. Nao also could have dismissed Windies wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran for a duck in the second over, with the technology showing it would have been out if reviewed.

After surviving that early scare, Pooran put on a 53-run partnership with Brandon King before holing out on 27.

Vala then dismissed King (34) and Sherfane Rutherford (2), with Windies falling from 61-1 to 97-5.

The experienced partnership of Chase and Russell got them over the line, though, to avoid an upset.

Russell ended the 17th over by pouncing on a long hop to find six before Chase hit a four off the next ball, gifted by a misfield as they scored the runs required in just 13 balls.

Windies pass test but flatter to deceive

Of the two T20 World Cup co-hosts, any chance of a home nation succeeding at this World Cup is almost certain to come from the West Indies, with the United States making their debut.

While the Caribbean islands are traditionally a forced to be reckoned with in world cricket, having not even qualified for last year's 50-over World Cup in India, West Indies have plenty to prove.

Just 48 hours before their World Cup opener in Guyana against 20th-ranked PNG, Windies scored 257 in a victory over Australia in their final warm-up match, marking the cards of many as a team to watch.

With two wickets inside 13 balls, they set an early tone for what could have been a convincing home victory, but allowed their associate nation opponents back into the game, posting a score that was by no means challenging, but at the very least, competitive.

A few pieces of sloppy fielding and not too much offered in the form of aggressive bowling allowed PNG hope, highlighted at the end of their innings when a no-ball from Joseph gifted three extra runs.

Losing opener Charles in the second over meant the Windies were tested and had PNG been more confident in reviewing, it would have been 8-2 later that over.

Partnerships between Powell and King and, later, Chase and Russell eventually got Windies over the line, but with this being among the easier of West Indies' Group C matches, much more will be needed later in the campaign.

Like they did against PNG, West Indies should, in theory, make light work of Uganda, but will by no means be certain of victory against New Zealand and Afghanistan.

Ahead of the toss, Windies captain Rovman Powell said there was "expectation" on the nation to do well, and he admitted afterwards his side "weren't quite at our best", adding "we were 60% there".

They will hope to become the first side to win the T20 World Cup as a home nation, but more performances like their meek win over Papua New Guinea means that progression into the Super 8s is by no means a certainty.

'PNG deserve to be here' - reaction

West Indies batting all-rounder Roston Chase: "I'm very pleased. It is always good to start the tournament with a win and I'm glad I was able to do that for the team.

"PNG are not an A-list team but they deserve to be here and we're not underestimating anyone. We treated them like an India or Australia but we probably lacked a bit of intensity at the start."

Papua New Guinea captain Assad Vala: "It was a competitive score but we believe we missed a trick at the end, another 10 or 15 runs would have been nice. From the wickets we lost early on, I was really happy with 136.

"We try to play the best cricket against the best players. The effort was really good and we need to take that into the game against Sri Lanka."