World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015
Papua New Guinea look to improve on two 8th place finishes
Papua New Guinea have played in the World Twenty20 Qualifier on two occasions, finishing in eighth place both times. This time they will hope to live up to their potential and break into that top six and reach the World Twenty20 in India next year.
The sole East Asia Pacific representative in the tournament, PNG qualified for the event by winning the EAP Trophy in Lismore, New South Wales in November. They dominated that event, at one point beating Indonesia by 193 runs. As the long time dominant side in the region though, that win was to be expected. The opposition in Ireland will be much tougher.
As well as the opposition, they will be playing in conditions they aren't used to playing in. They last played in Ireland 10 years ago during the ICC Trophy. There are only two players still in the squad who played in that tournament - Mahuru Dai and Asad Vala - though some of the squad played in the Under-19 World Cup Qualifier in 2011.
Coach Dipak Patel has already highlighted the weather - especially the temperatures - and lack of experience with the Duckworth/Lewis method as potential problems ahead of the tournament in an interview with CricketEurope, also highlighting some tactical naivety at this level.
Patel highlighted the fielding as a strength, and with fielding an increasingly key part of the Twenty20 game, that could well be something PNG can concentrate on in an effort to restrict the scores of their opposition.
Batting can be both a strength and a weakness for Papua New Guinea. They have players capable of making big scores in this format. Tony Ura smashed 127 runs from 59 balls during qualification against Samoa, whilst Assad Vala has the second highest score in any international Twenty20 cricket with 157 from 64 balls against Indonesia in 2013.
Lega Siaka is also capable of big scores, and he scored two centuries in the 50 over World Cup Qualifier last year as well as in their second ODI win over Hong Kong that helped them become the first team to win their first two ODIs.
However the same batsmen who are capable of making those big scores are also capable of throwing away their wickets after getting a start of 25-35. It's a problem first highlighted by Andy Bichel during his stint as coach that started in 2009 and hasn't completely gone away.
The team will also have to do without the experienced former England player Geraint Jones. He played for the country of his birth in the last two qualifiers, but they will have to do without him this time as the Gloucestershire captain has commitments with his county side. They certainly have the talent to succeed without him, but one can never discount the value of experience.
Star Man: Assad Vala. The recent tour of the Netherlands saw the 27 year old top order batsman - who has been playing for PNG for a decade - score a first-class century, meaning that he now has centuries in all three formats. A potentially dangerous batsman in the shortest form, don't be surprised to see his name amongst the highest run scorers in the tournament.
Players to watch: As already mentioned, Lega Siaka and Tony Ura can be potentially explosive with the bat and are well worth keeping an eye on. The bowling isn't as strong, but Willie Gavera was their leading wicket-taker in the last qualifier, and they will look to him this time too.
CricketEurope verdict: The best side in group A on paper behind Ireland and Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea are likely to reach the play-offs, and a lot will depend on what teams they end up against from there. Qualification for India is far from assured, but this is their best chance yet.
Papua New Guinea: Jack Vare (captain), Charles Amini, Sese Bau, John Boge Reva, Mahuru Dai, Willie Gavera, Loa Nou, Kila Pala, Pipi Raho, Lega Siaka, Chad Soper, Tony Ura, Vani Vagi, Assadollah Vala, Norman VanuaPNG fixtures: