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Cooks finish third in T20 Qualifier

Friday 16 September 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Cricket, Sports


Cooks finish third in T20 Qualifier
Cook Islands team that took part in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia-Pacific Qualifier. 22091519

Cook Islands cricket is expecting an improvement in their rankings after finishing third in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia-Pacific Qualifier in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The national side went down to champions Vanuatu by 50 runs via the Duckworth/Lewis/Stern (DLS) method in the final match of the Qualifier on Wednesday.

Cook Islands finished in third place behind Vanuatu and Fiji with three wins from six matches.

After a disappointing start with losses to Samoa and Fiji, Cook Islands bounced back to beat tournament favourites Vanuatu in round one before overcoming Samoa and Fiji in close matches in the second round.

Cook Islands took on Vanuatu in the do-or-die final match and needed to win by more than 70 runs – due to their poor net run rate – to make it into the next round of qualifiers.

After winning the toss, the national side elected to bowl first. Vanuatu made a brilliant start with the bat scoring 160 (including 10 extras) runs in 16 overs after the match was cut short due to rain. Following the DLS method, a target of 174 was set for the Cook Islands to win.

The target marred with slippery conditions proved impossible for the national team to chase the score as they were all out for 123 runs in the 14th over.

Team manager Rahul Patil said there were several factors that affected their performance against Vanuatu.

“The rain definitely affected the game. For the first five to six overs we did well, then the rain came and it became difficult for the bowlers to get a grip of the ball and the outfield was wet so fielding was not easy as well. Vanuatu took advantage of it and scored a lot of runs,” Patil said.

“It (174 adjusted by DLS) was a difficult target to get.”

Patil said in order to finish ahead of Vanuatu and qualify for the next round, the national side needed to reach the target in 7.2 overs.

“That was impossible so we decided to just go for win but then again with conditions being the way they were (wet) and batting in rain, the batsmen found it difficult to play.”

Captain Ma’ara Ave, who finished the tournament as the top run scorer, lost his wicket in the second over as other top and middle order batsmen struggled to stamp their mark at the crease.

Patil said while they were disappointed to finish the tournament with a loss, they were pleased the way the team bounced back after a poor start early in the qualifiers.

Ave, who led the team’s comeback, was also awarded the Player of the Tournament and the Batsman of the Tournament awards.

“Ma’ara led from the front, he was injured in the first game but played every game with four stitches on his head. He also had some fantastic fielding and got lots of catch and finished as top run scorer of the tournament,” Patil said.

“He was very inspirational and took the team along with him making them believe that if he with the injury can do it so can others.”

Patil said after beating better ranked teams like Vanuatu and Samoa, Cook Islands could expect an increase in their ICC rankings which would open up opportunities to play more international matches in the near future.

The team will leave Port Vila for Auckland, New Zealand this morning, the Rarotonga-based players and management are expected to arrive home tonight.

Patil said the management team including coach Craig Murray would be working on developing a youth pathway plan “to best utilise this momentum we have created”.