Alastair Cook

Captain Alastair Cook (right) top-scored for England with 64 off 47 balls © Getty Images

By Jaideep Vaidya
 
Cardiff: Jun 16, 2013

England skipper Alastair Cook‘s timely half-century ensured the hosts reached a competitive 169 all-out in 23.3 overs against New Zealand in a rain-curtailed ICC Champions Trophy 2013 Group A clash.

England would have gotten more, had they not lost seven wickets for 28 runs in the last 31 balls, but they wouldn’t be too unhappy with their total.
 
The infuriating weather that has hampered many a match in this tournament beared down on Cardiff to frustrate the Sunday crowd, eating away more than five hours of the scheduled play time before the skies cleared to facilitate a 24-overs-a-side game.
 
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum had won the toss and put England in to bat before the rain came down on Sophia Gardens. Finally, at 15.45 local, there was a cheer as the Kiwis strode out onto the pitch in bright sunshine to take field. England opened with Cook and the big-hitting Ian Bell.
 
With the game reduced to almost a Twenty20 format with a few additional overs, the two openers struck a boundary each in the first two overs, before Bell’s enthusiasm and McCullum’s lightning-quick reflexes at short-cover accounted for the former’s wicket. Brother Nathan made it two in two for the McCullums in the very next over as Jonathan Trott flicked Kyle Mills straight to mid-wicket.
 
The Black Caps would have been delighted with their start as Joe Root came out to join his skipper in the middle earlier than he would have expected. From there, the mature heads of the experienced Cook and the inexperienced, but prudent, Root guided England at a run-a-ball to the 10th over, before the ante was upped.

England’s score got a boost from 64 for two to 99 for two within the space of three overs as the pair went for their shots. They were helped by some generosity from Nathan McCullum, who dropped three catches, including a lolly at gully-point.
 
Mitchell McClenaghan eventually got his second wicket in the 15th over of the innings after Root top-edged a length delivery high up in the air towards square-leg where Luke Ronchi took the catch. England slowed down a tad, picking just 20 from the next three overs, before Cook decided to target Kane Williamson, hitting the offie for a six and a four in an over. Finally, it was Nathan McCullum who got to redeem for his errors in the 19th over when Cook drilled the ball straight back to him off his own bowling. The England captain was gone for a well-made 64 off 47 balls.

A collapse followed as England fell from 141 for three to 169 all-out, with Nathan McCullum making it dropped-three-caught-four and McClenaghan getting his third victim to become the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 11. Mills got two wickets in the final over of the innings to make it four for the match as the Black Caps managed to restrict England to well below 200, which seemed on the cards until not too long ago.

Brief scores:

England 169 in 23.3 overs (Alastair Cook 64, Joe Root 38; Kyle Mills 4 for 30, Mitchell McClenaghan 3 for 36) vs New Zealand.

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