Captain wants team to bring smiles to his countrymen who have endured a tough fight with covid-19
Papua New Guinea may be first-timers at the T20 World Cup, but captain Assad Vala spoke of their ambition of making it out of the competition’s first round and make their appearance in this tournament a habit. At the same time, they want to ensure that people back home, who are suffering from what is being described as the “worst surge” in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, have something to smile about.
“It is really a proud moment for me and the boys,” Vala said. “It has been a long time coming. We have come so close on so many occasions. We are a couple of days away from playing our first World Cup match. The boys are looking pumped up for the game on Sunday. During this pandemic, it will mean a lot for people back home. We are trying to put a smile on their faces.”
“To be honest, we believe in ourselves,” he said. “We want to play to the best of our abilities. We want to express ourselves. We want to make it to the second round to test ourselves against the best teams in cricket. We don’t want this World Cup to be a one-off. We want to keep improving. We want to get the exposure and knowledge against the best teams.”
PNG are known in the Associate circuit as nearly men after throwing away good chances to make it into the 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups. They topped Group A in the 2019 Qualifier tournament to make it into this tournament.
“We got a lot of confidence from the 2019 World Cup qualifiers,” he said. “We have played a lot of cricket over the last 18 months. We have got better by playing more matches, particularly the ones we played in Oman and Dubai. It has put us in good stead. On Sunday, we can hit the ground running.”
He is among the key players, but so are Norman Vanua and Charles Amini, talented allrounders who have done well for them in the past. Vanua however is nursing a shoulder injury, which Vala is confident will be okay come Sunday.