After two years of frustration, Varo Media Country will be hoping they are able to claim a first title at Turangi Oval. But holders Sky Pacific Town have their eyes on a hat-trick and are in no mood to relinquish their crown.
Since the start of the competition in 2016 Town have held the upper hand, although Country ran them close last year.
It was Country who won the opening match of the three-game series in 2017 before losing the second. Town then put on a brilliant performance in the final series to retain the title.
However, Country know a repeat of last year’s opener will be enough, as this year the competition will be decided in a one-off 50 over match instead of the three match Twenty20 series.
It means there is no coming back from a bad start, and the pressure is on both sides to hit the ground running to clinch the title.
“We have nothing to lose. It’s just one match, either you win or lose, but we will try our best to win,” said Country skipper Ray Roumanu.
“We hope to see more games played in the series so it gives the teams a better opportunity to stake their claim to the Vaka of Origin title.”
Roumanu said they have left the heartbreak of the past two years behind to focus on winning their first title.
“We want to win this year and stamp our mark in the competition. Whatever happened last year or 2016 is history. We don’t want to dig up the memories from last year because it will stink. This year, we want to go out there and create a legacy.”
Roumanu, who plays for Matavera in the Rarotonga Cricket Competition, said he had selected players who could perform well in the 50 over match, adding they have a strong team “to do the job” today.
Town skipper Wayken Punga is wary of the Country challenge, saying “they will come all out to beat us this year”.
“We will not give up easily. We want to make it three years in a row and that’s our aim heading into this match,” Punga said.
“We know Country is always a tough side to play and we know they want to win this one badly but we also want to win so it will be an interesting tussle.”
Both teams are stacked with top Rarotonga-based players and Cook Islands Cricket Association chief executive officer Davis Teinaki hope they will put on a grand show today.
Weather permitting, the Town versus Country match will start at 10am. Trader Jacks food truck will also be at the venue selling food and refreshments.
Country – Ray Roumanu (C) (Matavera), Ben Vakatini (Matavera),
William Jephson (Turangi), Mike Hoff (Muri), Moni Uini (Matavera), Vane Tangimetua Sr (VC), Vane Tangimetua Jr, Patiia Ataera (Muri), Tutu Tangimetua, Iro Maroaroa (Matavera), Osalai Akai (Turangi), Adam (Matavera), Tiri Toa (Turangi)
Town – Wayken Punga (C), Deacon Teapa, Nooroto William, Vinegar Tiro, Taupa Melota, Teaute Ravarua, Kunta Ritawa, Parker Daniel, Melody Melota, Ula Teinaki, Terry William, Maia Yawea, Teo Pana, John Angaino, Rip Tauia