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Cooks make impressive comeback

Tuesday 13 September 2022 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Cooks make impressive comeback
The architects of Cook Islands’ victory over Samoa, captain Ma’ara Ave, left, and 16-year-old Liam Denny. Picture: RAHUL PATIL/22091215

Cook Islands has made a sensational comeback in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup East Asia-Pacific Qualifier with their second win yesterday.

After beating hosts and tournament favourites Vanuatu on Saturday by five wickets, Cook Islands yesterday produced another spectacular performance winning on the last ball against Samoa.

The national side had lost to Samoa by seven wickets in round one last week but yesterday they managed to turn the tables around to keep their chances in the Qualifier alive.

Cook Islands won the toss and decided to field, sending Samoa to bat. The team bowled and fielded well with 16-year-old Liam Denny picking three wickets for 12 runs in the four overs he bowled.

Samoa scored 157 for 9 in 20 overs.

In reply, Cook Islands got off to a decent start with skipper Ma’ara Ave and veteran Davis Teinaki opening the innings.

After losing Teinaki’s wicket and three more, man of the match Ave, who scored an impressive 76 not out, formed a remarkable partnership with Denny, who scored 45 runs before he was run out in the final over.

In an exhilarating finish, Cook Islands needed eight runs from two balls in the final over. Captain courageous Ave rose to the occasion, smashing a six before managing two runs with partner Tomakanute Ritawa to win the match by four wickets.

Ave’s total included three fours and four sixes.

After the win, Cook Islands team manager Rahul Patil told Cook Islands News: “It was the captain’s inning, he (Ave) stayed right till the end despite the hot and humid conditions. It showed how fit he is and playing so well despite being injured in the first match with four stitches on his forehead.”

“The 16-year-old Liam was also superb with his bowling and then with the bat combining well with Ma’ara to keep the scoreboard moving with ones and twos and when the opportunity presented itself, they also hit the ball over the boundary.

“In the final ball when we required two runs to win the match … I have never seen Kunta (Ritawa) run so fast … he dashed to the danger end and made sure he got back for the two runs that were needed to win the match.”

The win has put Cook Islands on second spot behind Vanuatu who defeated Fiji by 18 runs last night.

Cook Islands will take on Fiji at 4.30pm this afternoon (Cooks time) in a must win match before facing Vanuatu on Wednesday at 4.30pm.

“After we lost badly in our first game, we realised we didn’t play well but in the second match (against Fiji) we put up a good score and we should have won but lost because of the 30 extras,” Patil said.

“We had a meeting and discussed this (extras) was something we could control. We needed to be more discipline with the ball and field with more intensity to avoid giving away easy runs. We basically needed to play good cricket for 40 overs with full intensity for the entire game.”

Patil hailed skipper Ave for his man of the match performances against Vanuatu and Samoa and motivating the other players after a poor start to their campaign.

The team with the most points qualifies for the next step which is the regional final. Papua New Guinea and Philippines have already secured their place in the regional final. They will be joined by the winner of the tournament in Vanuatu and the winner of another tournament to be played between Indonesia, South Korea and hosts Japan in October 2022.

The matches will be livestreamed on ICC.tv.

Cook Islands – Hori Miller, Benjamin George Vakatini, Davis Teinaki, Tomakanute Ritawa, Tomasi Wellington Vanuarua, Gabe Steven Raymond, Mea Tangi Me Ma’ara Joshua Ave, Cory Russell Dickson, Hayden Bob Dickson, Liam George Roderick Denny, William Teariki-Apainga Kokaua, Thomas Tereapii Nikau Parima, Aue Metua Parima, Danny Brent Simpson, Craig Murray – Team Coach, Rahul Patil – Team Manager. Non-travelling reserves – Pare Rongokea, Christopher Mana, Pati Ataela.