Williamson’s Ton Goes in Vain; Rain Washes out NZ-Aus CT tie

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Birmingham : Kane Williamson’s fluent century was the highlight of what was an otherwise disappointing day as rain washed out the second Group A match of the ICC Champions Trophy between New Zealand and Australia, here today.

Chasing a revised target of 235 from 33 overs following two rain interruptions, Australia were struggling at 53 for three in nine overs when heavens opened up for the third time in the day, forcing the onfield umpires to abandon the game as both the sides split points.

New Zealand might be cursing the heavens as the stakes were loaded heavily in their favour when rain stopped the play for the third time in the match.

Adam Milne (2/9) rocked Australia’s chase even as Steve Smith (8 not out) was holding the fort at the other end.

Earlier, New Zealand skipper Williamson led from the front with a brisk century as the Kiwis produced a dominant batting performance to amass 291.

Williamson made 100 off 97 balls with the help of eight fours and three sixes, while Luke Ronchi scored a quick 65 off 43 balls up the order to set the base for New Zealand’s total of 291 all out in a rain-curtailed affair between the Trans- Tasman rivals at Edegbaston.

Josh Hazzlewood ran through New Zealand’s lower-order and returned with impressive figures of six for 52 from his nine overs.

The match was reduced to 46-over-a-side affair after a spell of rain halted the proceedings for a brief period.

Later on, just at the stroke of lunch another spell of showers interrupted the match for the second time, which meant Australia’s target was revised to 235 off 33 overs.

David Warner (18) and Aaron Finch (8) made cautious start to their chase piling up 27 runs off the first five overs.

But Australia were dealt a massive blow in the first delivery of the next over in the form of Warner, who edged one to Luke Ronchi behind the stumps of the bowling of Trent Boult.

Milne then struck twice in quick time, removing Finch and Moises Henriques to derail Australia’s chase before heavens opened up for the third time in the match with the Aussies in a spot of bother at 53 for three in nine overs.

Earlier, New Zealand made a good start after opting to bat with Martin Guptill (26) and Ronchi looked settled from the word go.

The duo added 40 runs in 34 balls before Guptill found a leading edge while trying to flick Hazzlewood and Glenn Maxwell took a simple catch at point.

The fall of wicket, however, did not have any effect on Ronchi’s approach as he went about his normal attacking style of play.

Ronchi was particularly severe on Patt Cummins (1/67) as he continued his onslaught and struck the pacer for a six and four in consecutive balls in the 13th over.

Ronchi had his share of luck as Mitchell Starc dropped a simple chance at mid-on.

The batsman cashed in on the opportunity and struck Cummins for another four and a six in he next two consecutive balls to carry forward the momentum.

But Ronchi’s stay did not last long as he was holed out at point to Maxwell off John Hastings (2/69) in the very next over.

Ronchi made an impactful 65 off 43 balls with the help of nine boundaries and three hits over the fence and stitched 77 runs for the first wicket wicket with skipper Williamson.

Williamson, who played the second fiddle till Ronchi was at the crease, then took the onus on himself to guide New Zealand’s innings and together with Ross Taylor (46) played aggressively to share 99 runs in just 18.1 overs for the second wicket.

Taylor was the next to to perish when he top-edged a Hastings’ climbing delivery to Moises Henriques at cover.

Although Williamson was the quiet customer, he silently piled up his runs in quick time and anchored the New Zealand innings.

Williamson picked up his tempo as the game progressed and found the boundaries at will to score his first century against Australia off just 99 balls.

But soon Williamson departed after he was found short of the crease at the non-striker’s crease.

Till the time Williamson was at the crease, New Zealand were well on course to cross the 300-run mark but their innings just fell apart after the skipper’s dismissal as Australia bundled out the Kiwis with one over to spare.