28 Apr 2017

Papua New Guinea are embracing the favourites tag at the Women's World T20 Cricket Qualifier for the East Asia Pacific.

11:20 am on 28 April 2017

Papua New Guinea are embracing the favourites tag at the Women's World T20 Cricket Qualifier for the East Asia Pacific.

Up for grabs is a berth in the final qualifying tournament for next year's World T20 Championships in the West Indies.

The PNG Lewas are strong favourites after winning last year's 50 over regional qualifier in Apia.

The PNG Lewas celebrate a wicket.

PNG are hoping for more success in Sano. Photo: ICC East Asia Pacific

They're up against Vanuatu in today's opening round in Sano and assistant coach Arua Dikana backed them to do well.

"The last couple of months we've been training well in PNG," he said.

"We are really good at the moment and we have some players who can win matches and cricket is a funny game where we expect anything.

"We have prepared for this tournament as favourites so we are looking forward to the first game."

PNG women's cricket captain Pauke Siaka.

PNG women's cricket captain Pauke Siaka. Photo: ICC East Asia Pacific

Vanuatu did not take part in the the 50 over qualifying tournament for East Asia Pacific but coach Eddie Mansale believed they could produce an upset.

"Everyone knows we're underdogs here - we rank last in the tournament," he said.

"But we still feel the team had a good year last year. All year as preparation we're doing skills work a lot and yeah we're ready."

"None of these team here are going to look up to Vanuatu in a way," said Mansale.

"We are well prepared and we're looking to do a lot of damage in this tournament - we're going to upset some big names around here."

Samoa are expected to pose the biggest challenge to PNG's regional dominance.

The 2015 Pacific Games gold medallists are determined to atone for last year's disappointment on home soil.

Samoa celebrate winning gold at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

Samoa are hoping to replicate their success at the 2015 Pacific Games. Photo: ICC East Asia Pacific

Captain Regina Lili'l will once again captain the side which features four new faces, including all-rounder Kolotita Nonu and batter Doris Kalifa, as well as a new coach in New Zealander Garry Wood.

"Four members of this team are based in Auckland and four members of the girld based in Samoa flew over to Auckland and played club cricket there over summer, which was really good," she said.

"So a good core of the squad have been playing cricket for the past six months together. The other six girls based in Samoa have been sort of doing training programmes that our coaches sent over for them.

"And then we've had a one week camp before we flew over here, which is the first time our unit had been together as a team."

Samoa face hosts Japan first up on Friday and Regina Lili'l said, while they were not underestimating the other countries, they were confident in their preparation and believed they had what it takes to win.

The tournament will be in a double round robin format, with each team competing once per day.

Hosts Japan take on Samoa in today's other clash.