FIJI rocked the boat early on, but was unable to sustain the pressure as Papua New Guinea's bowlers proved too hot to handle in yesterday's morning session of the 2013 Pepsi ICC East Asia-Pacific Men's Championship at Waikaraka Park.
On a track which played host to plenty of runs in the tournament's opening two days, Papua New Guinea were delighted to win the toss and take first use of the Waikaraka Park 2 wicket.
Despite gifting eight wides to the PNG total, Fiji's 41-year-old opening bowler Samuela Draunivudi stunned the Barramundis with two crucial wickets in the very first over, trapping Tony Ura lbw for 1 before dismantling Jack Vare-Kevere's stumps for a golden duck off the very next delivery.
Vuiyasawa Mateiwaqa followed up Draunivudi's strikes by nicking out PNG run-machine Assadollah Vala, fresh off scoring 228 runs on Monday, for just 18 as the tournament favourites were in early disarray at 30 for 3.
A counter-attack followed as Mahuru Dai added 62 for the fourth wicket with Chris Kent. Dai struck a series of boundaries, favouring wide mid-wicket and long on as he took to Jone Batinbulu's second over, which leaked 14 runs.
However, just as PNG seemed to have built a platform from which to launch, Kent was stumped coming down to Joji Bulabalavu, who in tandem with Sekove Ravoka's leg-spin ushered a few quiet overs into the middle stages of the innings. Bulabalavu struck a vital blow during this period by removing Dai for 48 as PNG again looked vulnerable at 105-5 in the 14th over.
This vulnerability was indeed exposed as Bulabalavu, who finished with exceptional figures of 3-21, forced Lega Siaka to miscue a heave out to the cover sweeper, before Ravoka trapped Chris Amini lbw trying to sweep against the turn and PNG slipped further to 117-7.