Rain has the final say in Aus-NZ tie

Rain has the final say in Aus-NZ tie

Kane Williamson did his best to lighten up a gloomy Edgbaston with a silken century but rain eventually had the final say as New Zealand and Australia shared points in their opening fixture of the Champions Trophy here on Friday.

Williamson, on whose slender shoulders the Kiwi batting rests, stroked himself to a free-flowing 100 (97b, 8x4, 3x6), first combining with the dangerous Luke Ronchi (65, 43b, 9x4, 3x6) and then partnering with former skipper Ross Taylor (46, 58b, 6x4) to help New Zealand post a challenging 291 all out in 45 overs.

The Kiwis then had Australia — chasing 235 for win in 33 overs — in a spot of bother after reducing them to 53/3 in 9 overs when rain came crashing down for the third time. This time though it didn't stop and the officials had no choice but to abandon the game.

New Zealand can feel hard done by the weather as they set themselves up nicely to upset the favourites after having posted their highest total against Australia in a global event, beating their 286/9 in the quarterfinal of the 1996 World Cup.

The Kiwis made a bright start to their innings with the experienced Martin Guptill and Ronchi making the most of some juicy Australian bowling. New-ball bowlers Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood erred in their lengths, bowling predominantly full in a bid to get some swing in the overcast conditions. But they ended up offering freebies to Guptill and Ronchi and the duo made the most of it.

Against the run of play Guptill departed in the sixth over. The dismissal, however, didn't affect them as Williamson and Ronchi went about their batting without much fuss. The two-hour rain interruption in-between too didn't hamper their momentum.

While Williamson was elegant, playing some easy on the eye shots, Ronchi was more counter-punching, choosing his moments to go big to leave the Aussies scampering. Ronchi fell in the 16th over while trying to play one shot too many but Taylor took over and he combined brilliantly with Williamson. The experienced duo, who have been involved in some big partnerships for New Zealand, initially exercised caution, aware that their batting lacked much depth thereafter. They then slowly began to open their shoulders and the Kiwis looked good for a huge total on a ground that's been witnessing some high scores in the domestic games.

But the dismissals of Taylor and Williamson in the 34th and 40th overs respectively spelt doom for them. None of the incoming batsmen showed any application to take some time initially and then explode. They lost 7/37 in just 5.5 overs to be dismissed for 291 with Hazlewood (6/52) causing bulk of the damage.

A second spell of rain then delayed the Australian chase but when play got underway, the Kangaroos had to go at over 7 runs per over. Kiwi pacers Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne bowled tight lines to wreck the Aussie top-order.

But just when Moises Henriques was dismissed and the Black Caps celebrated, rain pounded the stadium to leave them a disappointed lot.

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