ICC Champions Trophy: New Zealand vs Australia Match Report
A crowd of over 18,000 welcomed the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy to Birmingham but sadly rain had the final say as Australia and New Zealand had to settle for a point apiece from a 'no result' at Edgbaston.
A match which was bothered by the weather throughout the day was set up for a compelling finish when Australia reached 53 for three from nine overs in pursuit of an amended target of 235 from 33. But just after 6pm came the heaviest rain yet which scuppered any chance of a resumption before the 6.50pm cut-off.
It amounted to frustration for the big crowd which had borne the delays with excellent spirit and, despite the interruptions, seen enough from both sides to suggest they will be dangerous opponents for England.
The Bears fans in that crowd were disappointed to find long-time Edgbaston favourite Jeetan Patel omitted from the New Zealand team. But former Birmingham Bears player Luke Ronchi was straight into action when the Black Caps batted and lit up a rain-affected morning with a blistering innings of 64 (43 balls, nine fours, three sixes). The wicketkeeper, who impressed during eight T20s for the Bears last season before departing on international duty, provided one of the champagne moments of the day when he lifted paceman Pat Cummins over long off into the crowd - where he was adroitly caught by a spectator!
The catch drew applause from Aussie fielder David Warner as he retrieved the ball.
After Ronchi's fireworks, Kane Williamson advanced to a high-class century - 100 from 97 balls with eight fours and three sixes - and at 254 for three with 11 overs left, the Black Caps looked set for a total approaching 350.
"We probably got away with one there."
But Australia showed familiar spirit and skill as they fought back to induce a spectacular collapse in which New Zealand lost their last seven wickets for 37 runs in 35 balls.
Josh Hazelwood finished with six for 52 after a closing spell of five for 15 in three overs while Cummins' figures of 9-0-67-1 don't look great but are pretty remarkable considering at one stage he had 5-0-52-1.
Chasing 235 in 33, Australia lost David Warner in the sixth over before Adam Milne struck twice in his first 12 balls. Sadly, after he clutched a sharp return catch to dismiss Moses Henriques, the deluge arrived to wash out the game. Post-match, Aussie captain Steve Smith, who paid tribute to the quality of the Edgbaston pitch, admitted his side was bailed out by the rain.
"We probably got away with one there," he said. "Credit to New Zealand, they batted well and came at us quite hard but it was one of our worst bowling displays for a long time. We have them a lot of freebies. Let's hope it was down to a bit of rust and we improve against Bangladesh at The Oval on Monday. "
Black Caps skipper Williamson was pleased with his side's display, not least the launchpad supplied by Ronchi.
"Roncs was outstanding," he said. "It was a good performance from the guys and, though we maybe didn't end up making as many as we might have done, I was proud of the guys for going out there late in the innings and trying to score quickly from ball one. It's not easy.
"Then the bowlers bowled aggressively, hit the deck hard and took early wickets so it was a little bit frustrating when the rain came."