Tuesday, 24 May 2022

So Close, but Rain Denies Australia Victory in Champions Trophy

BIRMINGHAM: After being on the fortunate end of a washout in their first group game, Australia were denied victory against Bangladesh at The Oval, where they were firmly in control of a small chase when it began to rain after 16 overs. They needed to play four more overs to ensure a result but the London weather did not allow it.

The last action on the field, before the players went off at 6.43 pm, involved Steven Smith simply blocking five deliveries from Mashrafe Mortaza without attempting to score, in the hope of speeding up proceedings to get to 20 overs. Australia would have been well ahead of the par score. The match was eventually called off at 9.18 pm.

With two points from two washouts, Australia now have to beat England in their final group game to have a chance of making the semi-finals. Bangladesh, who have only one point after two games, are not yet out of contention either.

It had drizzled towards the end of Bangladesh’s innings and there was a small delay in the start of the chase. Australia began it confidently. Aaron Finch and David Warner clubbed a couple of boundaries each and the pace did not flag even after Finch fell lbw to Rubel Hossain. Warner became the fastest Australia to 4000 ODI runs.

Bangladesh bowled only one over of spin, not hurrying the over-rate along by using their quicks for 15 overs. As Smith and Warner began a fluent partnership, their race was not against the bowling but the weather, and ultimately it was futile.

The weather was fair for much of the first innings but Bangladesh’s batting was not, with the exception of Tamim Iqbal, who waged a lone battle against Australia’s pace battery.

His 95 came off 114 balls, and included six fours and three sixes, but Tamim had little support from his team-mates and had to readjust his tempo every time a wicket fell. The first three went in the space of 11 overs – Mushfiqur Rahim did not review his lbw through he had got an inside edge – and Tamim began to rebuild the innings with Shakib. Their partnership had grown to 69 before Shakib was given out lbw to Travis Head; Nigel Llong’s decision appeared spot on despite the batsmen being well down the track.

Legspinner Adam Zampa debunked any doubt about his inclusion by taking two wickets in consecutive overs, though Smith brought him into the attack in the 35th over.

Mitchell Starc then ripped out the last four Bangladesh wickets in the space of nine balls, including three in one over – Tamim was caught pulling to fine-leg, before Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain were bowled by full and fast deliveries. Mustafizur Rahman narrowly survived Starc’s hat-trick ball but Mehedi was clean bowled in the next over.

The weather had begun to worsen, though, and the players spent the best part of the evening indoors.

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