NZ win toss, batting first vs Australia in Champions Trophy

The clouds are in; it's dark, the batsman is playing the ball late and nervously. David Warner and Aaron Finch fell in the space of nine balls, to Trent Boult and Adam Milne respectively. But I probably would have preferred to be in New Zealand's position when we came off at the end there.

Later, when Australia came out to bat, the play was further shortened due to many interruptions and the target was revised 235 from 33 overs.

Luke Ronchi, who started his worldwide career with Australia before switching allegiance to their trans-Tasman neighbours in 2013, was unbeaten on 24 from 17 balls, settling into his work after a dicey start which saw him twice come close to being run out. At the death, he was back to his best, outclassing the tail with three wickets in four balls. Doing his best Brendon McCullum impression for innovation and pluck, the hand that included twice popping Pat Cummins over his head, into the crowd.

Ronchi - who should have been run out earlier - was dropped on 54 by Mitchell Starc off Cummins. The real pace was coming off Ronchi's bat, not from the hyped Aussie attack. And Kane (Williamson) timed his innings beautifully, played really well throughout the middle.

Milne then bagged his second wicket when he took a return catch off Henriques just as the rain started to fall. Smith said at the toss that he was pleased his fast bowlers would have first use of the conditions, but they were not helped by an nearly total lack of swing.

But scrutiny also falls on Australia's top order for the mode of their dismissals.

Ronchi was finally dismissed for a 43-ball-65, his fourth ever ODI fifty and first in almost two and a half years.

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

Then heavy rain forced the players off, just after Moises Henriques (18) went out at the end of the ninth over, and with 20 needed to be completed to get a result, the clock then became an issue.

Starc bowled nine overs for 52 runs.

They could add extra firepower by including Chris Lynn, who shot to worldwide prominence earlier this year with a sensational Indian Premier League campaign, averaging almost 50 for the Kolkata Knight Riders. "We bowled both sides of wicket".

"I thought it was probably one of the worst bowling displays that we've put on for a very long time", ESPNcricinfo quoted Smith as saying after the match. If we look back at the last MoU, I think players gave back A$ 10 million to grassroots cricket, which is quite significant. "Every game is crucial and we have got to be at our best from ball one", he added.

His captain Steve Smith was even more honest, he called the bowling performance, "rusty" and "pretty ordinary" and that, with the rain, "we've perhaps got away with one there".

New Zealand appeared on track for victory, despite rain causing delays during the team's innings. But they bossed the Australian bowling and confused the Australian batting before Birmingham's weather stopped them short.

Australia and New Zealand have earned a point each after the washout.

While multiple-time world champions and Champions Trophy winners Australia are always a tough nut to crack, New Zealand will enter the game at Edgbaston with renewed confidence after their six-wicket warm-up win over Sri Lanka at the same venue.

With Williamson at the crease New Zealand looked on course for a imposing total before he was run out by teammate Neil Broom for 100 in the 40th over.

  • Julie Sanders