23 Aug 2018

Sport: Fiji cricketers embrace home advantage

12:30 pm on 23 August 2018

The Fiji men's cricket team is hoping a rare chance to play in front of their home fans can inspire them to excel in the first stage of qualifying for the 2020 World T20.

The Blues will play two matches each against Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa in East Asia-Pacific Qualifier Group A in Suva over the next week, with the top two teams advancing to the regional final in 2019.

Fiji's last major hit-out ended in defeat to Vanuatu at the World Cricket League qualifier in Bendigo 18 months ago.

Fiji defeated neighbours Samoa by three wickets.

Fiji last played at World Cricket League qualifier in Bendigo 18 months ago. Photo: ICC East Asia Pacific

Captain Sekove Ravoka, a 15-year veteran with the national team, said he was hopeful home support could help his side close the gap on their Pacific rivals.

"I think this is the first time for an ICC event to be hosted for an international competition at home so I think our supporters will be backing us," he said.

"The challenge is for us to perform at home so I think it will boost our morale too with our families and all the ex players out here to support the boys so we're looking forward to that."

The tournament gets underway on Saturday with Fiji up against Vanuatu in the morning and Papua New Guinea in the afternoon.

"Every game is like a final so if we treat every game (like a final) and win every game we've got a chance to be in that top two," said Ravoka.

"Every game counts for us so we will treat it game by game."

Fiji coach Iniasi Cakacaka has selected an experienced squad, including two players based overseas, while 15-year-old Jone Valenikuila is set to make his senior debut, after impressing for the Fiji Under 19s last year.

"I believe we have good balance in the team so I am looking forward to seeing each player execute their individual roles in the team," said Cakacaka.