New Zealand

Nathan McCullum (third from left) dismissed Matthew Wade for 29 © Getty Images

By Sarang Bhalerao

Birmingham: Jun 12, 2013

Australia have scored 243 for eight against New Zealand in their Group A encounter of ICC Champions Trophy 2013 on a slow track at Edgbaston.

Mitchell McClenaghan was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers (four for 65 in 10 overs). The spinners — Daniel Vettori ( none for 23 in 10 overs), Nathan McCullum (two for 46 in 10 overs) and Kane Williamson (one for 56 in 10 overs) utilised the slow surface to good effect. For Australia, Adam Voges (71 off 76 balls) and George Bailey (55 off 91 deliveries) were the half-centurions.

If Australia’s performance against England was disappointing then the start to the game against New Zealand today was even worse. After missing their captain Michael Clarke owing to a back injury, Australia suffered a huge setback — David Warner was dropped as he was involved in an altercation with an England player in Birmingham over the weekend in a bar.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat. Mitchell Starc was dropped in order to lend a balance to the bowling department which was one-dimensional against England. Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty was included in the playing XI. Glenn Maxwell was selected in place of Warner. New Zealand were boosted by the presence of the senior cricketer Vettori, who was in doubt about playing this match due to Achilles tendon. They fielded the same playing XI that beat Sri Lanka in Cardiff by one-wicket.

Matthew Wade walked out to open the innings with Shane Watson. Australia hoped that Watson would get them off to a good start. But he was dismissed in the second over trying to go for a drive off McClenaghan. The ball took Watson’s outside edge and he was caught-behind by Luke Ronchi for five. Soon after, in the fourth over, Philip Hughes was run-out for a duck. Wade dropped the ball towards the off-side and called for a quick single. Martin Guptill ran in from covers and flicked the ball onto the stumps at the striker’s end. Hughes was short of his crease.

At 10 for two, Australia needed to consolidate. Captain Bailey joined Wade. The duo batted confidently. There was not a lot of lateral movement for the bowlers. But New Zealand opening bowlers — McClenaghan and Kyle Mills bowled an incessant line around off-stump. Vettori too tied down the batsman, bowling first change. Tim Southee conceded 12 off his first over and released the pressure just a little.

Soon, captain Brendon McCullum handed the ball to his brother Nathan. The spin duo of Vettori and N McCullum bowled in tandem and applied a lot of pressure on the batsmen. The promising 64-run  partnership for the third-wicket was broken when N McCullum trapped Wade plumb in front for 29. Wade tried to work N McCullum’s straighter delivery towards the on-side and missed it. Wade asked for a review after consulting Bailey. The third-umpire upheld the on-field umpire’s call and at 74 for three, New Zealand were in the ascendancy.

Voges came in to bat at No. 5. He got his eye in, took singles and complemented Bailey well. There was a sense of urgency in the running. In the 27th over, Voges then took the aggressive approach by smashing Southee for a couple of boundaries — a straight drive and the next delivery was drilled between mid-off and cover. In the 29th over, McClenaghan was glanced fine for a couple of boundaries by Voges.

The fourth wicket partnership off 77 in 15 overs was broken by N McCullum. Bailey, who scored 55 off 91, tried to work the off-spinner towards the leg-side. But the ball spun prodigiously and went on to hit the stumps.

McClenaghan then came on to bowl his third spell and got dangerous looking Mitchell Marsh (22) and Voges (71). B McCullum kept the fielders up even in the later stages and employed Williamson. The tweaker had James Faulkner caught at mid-off in the 47th over.

Glenn Maxwell took on Williamson in the 49th over — two sixes and a boundary were scored in an over which went for 18. The final over from McClenaghan went for only five.

With two spinners — Doherty and Maxwell and one part-time left-arm spinner, Australia have plenty of spinning options on the spinning track. Can New Zealand pull off this run-chase?

Brief scores:

Australia 243 for 8 in 50 overs (Adam Voges 71, George Bailey 55; Mitchell McClenaghan 4 for 65, Nathan McCullum 2 for 46) vs New Zealand.

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(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)