EDGBASTON: When it rains, it pours. In this case, however, inclement weather assured Australia of a crucial point and allowed them to stay alive in the Champions Trophy following a rain-abandoned game against New Zealand on Wednesday.
New Zealand will not mind the solitary point either. They were placed at a decidedly insecure 51/2 in 15 overs, in pursuit of Australia’s 243/8, when the skies opened and curtailed further play.
A target of 193 in 35 overs against Australia's pace-heavy attack in wet conditions was never going to be easy. Thus, the Kiwis would be glad at the addition of point to their tally that takes them to three points overall in Group ‘A’.
Australia, having lost their opener against England and reeling from David Warner’s recent ‘unprovoked attack’ in a bar on Joe Root, will be happy to finally get on board and stay in contention in the tournament.
Group ‘A’s two other members, England and Sri Lanka, will face off on Thursday to decide how close – or one-sided – the race into the semis from this cluster turns out.
New Zealand earlier tied Australia down after stand-in captain George Bailey elected to bat. The average score was largely due to the restraining orders imposed on the batters by Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum and Kane Williamson, who together formed a Kiwi record for the most overs – 30 – bowled by spinners in an ODI.
Vettori, battling his perpetual Achilles tendon injury, gave away as little as 23 in his ten, while Nathan McCullum’s off-spin fetched him the key wickets of Mathew Wade (29) and skipper George Bailey (55).
Bailey and Wade were two major contributors in an innings weaved around Adam Voges’ 71. Australia, in fact, would have settled for 243 after they lost their most experienced ODI batsman in the second over, Shane Watson becoming left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan’s first of four victims.
Phil Hughes’ run out left the Aussies at 10/2, at which point were initiated a series of partnerships: 64 between Wade and Bailey, 77 between Bailey and Voges, and 44 between Marsh and Voges.
But the batsmen fell at crucial junctures. Bailey took 91 balls for his 55 before he was bowled by Nathan McCullum just before the batting Powerplay. Voges hit a McClenaghan fulltoss straight to short cover.
Glenn Maxwell’s cameo injected the innings with much-needed impetus. The 24-year-old biffed sixes off Williamson as he raced to a 22-ball 29, carrying Australia over to a competitive total in what eventually turned into a damp squib.
Fantasy cricket: Did your team have George Bailey?