A thunderstorm of epic proportions, backed up by brilliant flashes of lightning, cut short New Zealand’s chase of 173 after just 5.2 overs, but did not stop it from claiming England’s scalp in the ICC World Twenty20 2014 on Saturday (March 22). When play was halted, New Zealand was 52 for 1, nine ahead of the par score, and sharp showers kept the players off the field long enough for the game to be called off.
When Brendon McCullum won the toss, he had no hesitation in choosing to field, not so much because his team wanted to chase, or because he was worried about rain, but because the very real chance that dew would make bowling second a problematic prospect.
England began badly when Alex Hales was brilliantly caught by Corey Anderson with just one run on the board. But Moeen Ali, he of the luxuriant beard and swishing blade that made comparisons to Saeed Anwar unavoidable, took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Driving on the up off the back foot with impressive balance and picking the length of the short balls early enough to rock back and smack them over the on-side, Moeen gave England a surge of energy at the top of the order. Michael Lumb was less fluent, but impressive when the loose ball was on offer. Kyle Mills bowled the wrong length to Moeen and was taken to the cleaners early on.
New Zealand was in serious danger of letting the game run away from them when Moeen (36) fell, against the run of play. Attempting to pull an Anderson delivery that was perhaps not quite short enough, Moeen picked out the fielder at square-leg.
Lumb (33) followed soon after, again superbly caught by a diving Anderson, and suddenly England had two new batsmen at the crease. Sensing an opportunity, New Zealand pressed hard and Eoin Morgan was suckered into popping a catch to mid-off.
Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara ensured that the damage was not irreversible, keeping the momentum going. Buttler could not hit the high notes quite as regularly as Moeen, but he picked off boundaries just often enough to keep the bowlers under pressure.
For the second time in the innings, just as England looked set to run away with it, a wicket fell, Buttler dragging one back on to his stumps from the ever impressive Anderson. Bopara managed to hang on, even as wickets fell at the other end, and Tim Bresnan biffed 17 off 8 balls to help England to an impressive 172 for 6 from 20 overs, the highest score at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in the tournament so far.
New Zealand’s chase began sedately enough, with neither Martin Guptill nor Kane Williamson being too adventurous, and an attempted pull off Jade Dernbach went badly for Guptill and Chris Jordan accepted a straightforward chance at midwicket.
McCullum walked out to bat in perfectly dry conditions, but took only two balls to explode. When he walked down the pitch, Stuart Broad chased the batsman, trying to cramp him for room, but an improvised heave put the ball into the stands over midwicket. McCullum chanced his arm off the next ball, and the resultant top edge flew over the keeper’s head and ran down to the third-man fence. The final ball of the fifth over was a low full toss and McCullum carted it back down the ground for a six that put New Zealand well ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis curve.
Soon after the players went off the field, the rain stopped, and groundstaff got the Super Sopper out to begin mopping up. Before they could get the playing area ready for an inspection, however, the rain returned, and at 11pm local time, the game was abandoned.