PNG Women cricket make history, beat Zimbabwe

Photo: Cricket PNG

In a historic T20I showdown, Papua New Guinea’s women secured their maiden victory against a Full Member team, triumphing over Zimbabwe in a thrilling Super Over clash held in Harare.

The heroics of all-rounder Sibona Jimmy in the decisive Super Over propelled the Lewas to victory, as she smashed four crucial runs off the last two deliveries and then successfully defended a total of seven runs against the Zimbabwean duo of Kelis Ndhlovu and Mary-Anne Musonda.

The game had earlier seemed to slip away from the tourists, with victory seeming improbable as they needed 15 runs off the final over in their pursuit of 120. However, a spirited effort from veteran Pauke Siaka, who unfortunately got run out while attempting a risky second run with her partner Kevau Frank, brought the scores level.

Despite another dramatic run out off the final ball, Siaka, alongside Jimmy, managed to steer Papua New Guinea to victory, thereby leveling the T20I series. With the stage now set for a thrilling decider scheduled for Wednesday.

Opting to bowl first upon winning the toss at the Harare Sports Club, Papua New Guinea made early inroads by claiming two wickets during the Powerplay. However, a resilient partnership between Zimbabwe’s skipper Mary-Anne Musonda (37) and Modester Mupachikwa (45*) saw the home team stabilize their innings.

Despite the commendable fightback, Papua New Guinea managed to keep the scoring rate under check, with their spinners effectively containing the Zimbabwean batters. Notably, all four PNG spinners conceded fewer than a run per ball, with Sibona Jimmy’s figures of 2/21 (4 overs) narrowly eclipsed by Vicky Araa’s 2/20 (4 overs).

While Papua New Guinea faced challenges in scoring quickly during their innings, Pauke Siaka’s resilient knock at No.5 kept them in contention. Siaka’s blistering innings of 43 runs off 33 balls remained the only standout performance for PNG, scoring at a rate better than a run a ball. In the nail-biting Super Over, Siaka initiated with a quick double off the first ball, but could only manage a single from the subsequent deliveries. It was then left to Sibona Jimmy, whose consecutive twos took the Lewas to a total of seven.

In a remarkable turn of events, Jimmy, now bowling, managed to stifle any boundary attempts from the Zimbabwean batters in the first five deliveries. A dot ball against Ndhlovu sealed Papua New Guinea’s thrilling one-run victory in the Super Over, setting up a tantalising decider for the three-match series.