Teams share points after match is called off due to persistent rain
When the rains came down on Edgbaston 15 overs into New Zealand’s chase of 244 against Australia neither team had the match in the bag. In the end it was inconsequential, as the stipulated minimum of 20 overs in each innings had not been completed, and points were shared.
At the scheduled halfway mark, New Zealand would have backed itself to get to 244 given the presence of more than one explosive batsman in its midst. But, on a pitch that wasn’t exactly conducive to strokemaking, with a drizzle making matters worse, New Zealand lost its openers early in the piece, and hobbled to 51 for 2 from 15 overs.
Martin Guptill was undone by a delivery that gripped the pitch a touch and came to him slower than he expected, his attempted drive resulting in a thick edge to point. Luke Ronchi’s poor run with the bat since he began playing for New Zealand continued when he guided Clint McKay straight to gully. At 26 for 2, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were entrusted with giving the chase direction. The pair managed to keep the bowlers at bay, but the rain ensured that their work in progress remained just that.
Earlier in the day, Australia, rocked by an incident that resulted in David Warner being stood down for Wednesday’s match, made sluggish progress. It managed 243 for 8 from 50 overs thanks mainly to half-centuries from George Bailey and Adam Voges. It wasn’t the worst score, but it certainly wasn’t one Australia would have been entirely confident of defending, at the break.
When it chose to bat first on a dry pitch Australia desperately needed Shane Watson to fire. With Warner missing, the only batsman who could have provided the required impetus at the top of the order needed to make his mark when it was genuinely needed. But, Watson fell before he could decide what approach to take, poking tentatively at Mitchell McClenaghan to be caught behind by Ronchi.
Phil Hughes, who would have struggled to make it to an Australian One-Day International eleven in most eras, continued to fall short, lasting four balls before being smartly run out by Guptill at cover when contemplating a sharp single.
At 10 for 2, Australia was put firmly on the back foot and it was there it stayed for the best part of the innings. Matthew Wade, who was given opening responsibilities, bedded down and tried to rebuild in the company of the industrious Bailey, who once again led the side in the continued absence of Michael Clarke through a back injury.
Wade consumed 57 balls for 29, and added 64 with Bailey for the third wicket before he was sent on his way, playing across a straight, flat one from Nathan McCullum to be easily adjudged lbw. To make a sticky situation worse Wade reviewed the decision, which stood after the television umpire had taken a look at the event.
Bailey continued to keep his end up, not attacking needlessly and Voges began to find his feet. New Zealand’s quick bowlers did not get much by way of assistance, and the spinners were played with caution. Bailey reached his sixth half-century in his 23rd game, but fell soon after, being beaten by a sharply turning offbreak from McCullum. Bailey was on 55, but had moved too far across his stumps and looked back in dismay as his leg stump was pegged back.
Mitchell Marsh tried to force the pace, but when he attempted a front-foot pull against a McClenaghan delivery that was too far outside off for the shot, the resultant top-edge was comfortably taken by Ronchi.
For the second time in the innings Australia had stumbled and, with only 193 on the board at the end of the 42nd over, the last remaining hope of a big score was for the well-set Voges to bat through the innings. But, McClenaghan put paid to such thoughts with his third wicket off the innings, a lucky break that came through a full toss. Voges (71) tried to clatter the ball through the leg side, but only spliced it to short cover.
Glenn Maxwell pulled out the long handle at the death, and 18 came off the penultimate over, bowled by Williamson. McClenaghan, who became the highest wicket-taker in the tournament in the course of the innings, bowled a steady final over to keep Australia down to 243 for 8 in 50 overs.
Whether that would have been enough or not, we’ll never know.