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PNG have a more settled team than last time: Assad Vala

Last updated on 02 Jun 2024 | 08:28 AM
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PNG have a more settled team than last time: Assad Vala

After going winless in the 2021 edition, the Barramundis look to make amends this time around as the kick the campaign off against West Indies

Papua New Guinea's (PNG) introduction to the world stage at the T20 World Cup in 2021 was a harsh one. They lost all their three games in Round 1 and failed to make it to the next edition. However, they have found a way back in 2024, with the tournament having expanded to 20 teams. Skipper Assad Vala has been a constant in the team, and believes that the current lot is more settled.

"I think there's more experience in the team. The preparation has been different to the last one we went to. As it was held during the COVID. So, we didn't play over 12 to 18 months any international cricket and just going to the World Cup," Vala said ahead of West Indies clash.

"But there's no excuses as the other teams went through the same phase as well. So, for us I think the experience we gained from that, having different coaching staff and I think having a more settled team than the one we had last time so I'm really happy that the squad we have assembled for this tournament."

Phil Simmons was brought in as a coaching staff ahead of the tournament as the former West Indies all-rounder is well-versed with the conditions in the Caribbean. 

"He's been working great. He's a legend of West Indies cricket. Been working in CPL and coach some of the great teams. Coached the West Indies through the World Cup in 2016. Learning heaps from him, the conditions. He's been working with the players individually and as a team on how to play on this wicket. So really happy to have him on our team," Vala, who is PNG's second-highest run-getter in T20Is, said.

We have seen a few upsets in the last few editions - with Scotland beating Bangladesh and West Indies, Namibia beating Sri Lanka, Netherlands pipping South Africa and more. Do PNG fancy their chances as well?

"Yeah, definitely. It gives us confidence as well to all our countries that have been here in the World Cup. We just want to focus on ourselves and focus on our strength and what we need to do well throughout this World Cup. So, the boys are working really hard. They're looking forward to the opportunity playing in this World Cup," Vala said.

PNG are part of a tough group as they have Afghanistan and New Zealand to contend with in Group C, along with first-timers in Uganda. 

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