Australia put up an improved performance but rain has the final word

Australia were left frustrated after their Champions Trophy match against Bangladesh was abandoned due to rain at the Kennington Oval, London on Monday.

This is the second successive match for Australia that has been washed out at the tournament so far, which means that they have two points on the board from two games while Bangladesh have one point.

While the Aussies would have considered themselves fortunate to have got a point against New Zealand, they will be disappointed that they weren’t able to get a result here as they looked in complete control of the match.

When the rain came down, Australia were 83-1 in 16 overs, chasing a target of 183. Only four more overs were required to get a result via the D/L/S method, but it wasn’t to be.

Earlier, a much-improved bowling display from Australia saw them bowl out Bangladesh for 182. Tamim Iqbal was the most impressive of the batsmen for the Tigers once again as he fell just five runs short of a second hundred in the tournament.

Mitchell Starc looked to be back to his best as he took the Bangladesh lower-order to the cleaners, taking four wickets as the Asian side went from 181-6 to 182 all out.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who came into the Australian playing eleven after being left out for the fixture against New Zealand, registered bowling figures of 2-13 from four overs.

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ICC Champions Trophy 2017 match preview - Group A: England vs New Zealand

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Which captain will come out on top?

ENGLAND FOCUS

Coming into the Champions Trophy as one of the favourites, England’s batting stepped up to the mark in their opening fixture against Bangladesh as they chased down a target of 306 without much of a fuss.

The bowling will be a bit of a concern though, especially with Chris Woakes ruled out of the tournament due to a side strain.

England decided to leave out Adil Rashid in the opening encounter and it won’t be a surprise at all if the leg-spinner comes into the playing eleven for this game.

In the clash between the two sides at the ICC World Cup two years ago, England were thrashed by the Blackcaps, but Eoin Morgan feels that it’s a completely different situation now.

“They were one of the favourites going into the (World Cup) tournament and proved that against us that day in Wellington,” the England skipper said.

“It was sort of men against boys. But I think it’s completely different now, two years down the line. We’ve got a completely new team, pretty much.”

NEW ZEALAND FOCUS

New Zealand began their Champions Trophy campaign with a good performance against Australia and will consider themselves unlucky to have not got the win after the match was abandoned due to rain.

Kane Williamson was in top form in that game as he notched up his ninth ODI century and fast bowler Trent Boult was full of praise for the Blackcaps captain.

“He’s (Williamson) arguably the calmest man alive,” said Boult.

There will be some pressure on the Kiwis as they know that a defeat here will seriously hamper their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

DATE, TIME, VENUE INFO

Date: Tuesday – June 6, 2017

Time: 13:30 GST, 10:30 local, 09:30 GMT, 15:00 IST, 14:30 PKT

Venue: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

WHERE TO WATCH, LIVE STREAMING INFO

TV: UAE – OSN Sports Cricket HD

Full coverage on Sport360.com.

CONFIRMED ENGLAND XI: Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan (c), Buttler (wk), Stokes, Ali, Rashid, Plunkett, Ball, Wood.

CONFIRMED NEW ZEALAND XI: Guptill, Ronchi (wk), Williamson (c), Taylor, Broom, Anderson, Neesham, Santner, Milne, Southee, Boult.

SPORT360 MATCH PREDICTION: England go into the match as favourites, but you cannot rule out New Zealand from any contest. The weather could have a say in the match proceedings as well.

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View from ICC Champions Trophy: India rewarded for selection bravery

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India won the battle of the historic rivals on Sunday.

An odd question came up in Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur’s post-match conference in Birmingham on Sunday. “The captain had promised out of the box thinking. Where was it?” asked one reporter, after India had won the rain-marred Group B clash by 124 runs.

To be fair, it is tough to judge particularly given how Pakistan were mauled in every aspect. But they did do something intriguing – or ‘out of the box’ – in bowling Imad Wasim in the second over of the day. It was a surprise really as no Indian batsman would have expected to face left-arm spin at 10.35 am, that too playing in England on a cloudy, rain-soaked morning.

It would have been a move-to-remember, entering into the folklore of India-Pakistan rivalry, if Wasim had knocked back the Indian top-order. And there is every reason to suggest it worked in its limited capacity, as he controlled the scoring in the first ten overs. But in sport, not just in cricket alone, everyone tends to remember the moves that worked, the ones that win you the moment, the game, the tournament, and the trophy.

And so, this average-quality India-Pakistan encounter will be remembered more for what the winning team pulled off, obviously. Let is be also said here that India, until this game, had flown below the radar with many doubting their credentials to be able to defend their 2013 title. In that light, this game – rather this victory – was a resounding affirmation that the Men in Blue are always in contention.

Team India have been mired in controversy ever since they arrived in England. However, it wasn’t one of their making. It isn’t easy to concentrate on your job when rumours are swirling about relationships between the players and the team management. But this team has a thick skin. They go into a shell, and protect themselves from external attention, concentrating on doing just their own thing. This is how Virat Kohli, Anil Kumble and company survived the week before the first ball was bowled in Birmingham.

The toughest decision for the Indian captain in the build-up to this game was in deciding his bowling combination. And it was a brave call to leave out Ravi Ashwin after the season he has just had. On the face of it though, this was a no-brainer. If you are only going to play one spinner in limited-overs cricket, it has to be Ravindra Jadeja, not on account of his hitting prowess or bowling ability. It is simply on his athleticism and fielding skill.

“We decided in the morning that the surface was hard enough for the bowlers to keep hitting good, hard length and use the bouncer every over as well to create a bit of pressure. And we decided to play an extra seamer against Pakistan, purely because of the fact that becomes a wicket-taking option,” said Kohli after the game. The move paid dividends, of course. No one could have complained that India made a mistake in leaving out Ashwin, and this could very well decide the shape of things to come.

The other big headache was about Yuvraj Singh’s inclusion, or at least it seemed so from the outside. He hadn’t played a ball in anger on arrival in England, thanks to his fever. But this is a big-game batsman we are talking about. Throughout his career, he has helped India come back from the brink, never mind the situation, opposition or conditions. Just how could you leave him out?

Dinesh Karthik’s 90-odd in the second warm-up game was just an index of his preparation as a backup then. The selectors had picked Yuvraj to anchor the middle order, when they brought him back into the ODI fold in January against England. When fit, he just walked into the side, and on Sunday, Pakistan faced the brunt of his blade. Yes, they had themselves to blame – Hasan Ali dropping a sitter off him at 9* – and the complexion of the game changed thereafter.

“The way he batted was the way only he can strike the ball – hitting low full tosses for fours and sixes, and even digging out yorkers for fours, it was outstanding. That really deflated the opposition,” said the Indian skipper, who later promoted Hardik Pandya ahead of MS Dhoni. The all-rounder came out, smacked three sixes off three balls in the last over, put the score past 300, and Pakistan knew they were staring at defeat without facing a single delivery.

It didn’t seem anything different from routine for India, but holding Dhoni back did raise an eyebrow. That the move worked was an affirmation of a new thinking in the Indian camp, particularly from Kohli’s point of view. Whether it was in leaving out Ashwin, picking Yuvraj or promoting Pandya, the skipper believed in his decisions with conviction.

So did his counter-part Sarfaraz Ahmed, when he decided to bowl Wasim in the second over. Sadly, no one will remember that.

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