Sport: PNG Barramundi's encouraged by strong start

11:27 am on 23 September 2016

Papua New Guinea's cricketers are looking to build on a strong start to the SACA League in Darwin this weekend.

The Barramundi's chased down 269 in their opening one-day match against the Southern Force on Saturday, with Assad Vala scoring an unbeaten century and Willie Gavera marking his return from injury with four wickets.

PNG were 119 for 6 in their next match against Northern Mavericks before thunderstorms intervened.

Head coach Dipak Patel said their performance with the bat was especially pleasing.

"It sort of wiped away the memories of most of our batsmen against Western Australia (in a warm-up match earlier this month, where we failed to chase a total down, whereas this time the great thing is our batsmen have learnt to finish the game off where we won with seven overs to spare," he said.

"Having Willie Gavera back again as our strike bowler. Him taking four wickets and looking reasonably fit - he's been out of the game for nearly eight-ten months now - so a lot of positives from our perspectives.

"Whereas on Sunday we were well aware that thunderstorms were forecast and certainly the conditions were ideal for bowling and hence the score of 116 for 5 at that stage. We felt that, although it was a shortened game of 39 overs, a score of 180-200 would have been ideal in those conditions...we felt that we were on target to what we were trying to achieve."

PNG Barramundis coach Dipak Patel.

PNG Barramundis coach Dipak Patel. Photo: Cricket PNG

Dipak Patel said the SACA League also presents a valuable opportunity to have some extended time with his players.

"Staying away from the distractions of being at home, it's nice to get the guys in a confined area and we can work on a lot of things from a training or fitness perspective but I think more from a theory perspective as well - being able to have that spare time to talk to individuals and look at video analysis and look at stats

and how we can improve in areas," he said.

"These two weeks - and almost three and a half weeks in Adelaide as well inclusive - it's ideal because we only play on the weekends and during the week we've got that spare time to work on those areas that we need to."

The Barramundi's are back in action this weekend against the Eastern Edge and Western Grit.

The PNG Barramundis in training.

The PNG Barramundis in training. Photo: Cricket PNG