Kane Williamson hit a fine century, setting the platform for New Zealand’s competitive first innings total of 291 after they elected to bat first in the second match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 against Australia at The Oval on Friday (June 2). A rain interruption a little after the start resulted in the match being reduced to 46 overs a side, but Williamson was unperturbed as he went about his business as usual to register his ninth ODI hundred and lift New Zealand to a good total.
But just like England did against Bangladesh in the tournament opener, Australia found their mojo late in the innings, and following Williamson’s run out immediately after his hundred, launched a superb fightback to restrict their opponents. Josh Hazlewood was the wrecker-in-chief as New Zealand lost their last seven wickets for only 37 runs and failed to capitalise in the death overs.
Williamson was part of two solid stands after the opening combination of Martin Guptill (26 off 22) and Luke Ronchi (65 off 43) had given New Zealand a pacy start. Alongside Ronchi, who scored his first fifty since the 170 he made against Sri Lanka before the 2015 World Cup, the New Zealand captain added 77 runs at a brisk pace.
Ronchi was the aggressor, hitting the ball on the up through the offside to get his side the early momentum. Williamson played second fiddle, constantly dabbing the ball to third man or tapping it wide of mid-on to keep rotating the strike. Once Ronchi was out, cutting John Hastings to Glenn Maxwell at point, Williamson found another able partner in Ross Taylor.
The pair added 99 runs at close to a run-a-ball. Williamson had got his eye in and started to pepper the fence around the ground, while Taylor, too, showed he was setting himself up for the big one. As New Zealand closed in on the 200-run mark, the pair started to push the accelerator and runs started to flow.
But with Taylor’s dismissal, falling to Hastings for 46 off 58, New Zealand lost the plot. Neil Broom struggled to get going, and was guilty of being involved in a mix-up that saw his captain make the walk back to the pavilion. Williamson had just notched up his hundred and looked set to give New Zealand the big finish, but his run out turned out to be catastrophic.
Broom fell for 14 soon after, while James Neesham, Corey Anderson, Adam Milne and Mitchell Santner all fell for a combined 33 runs as New Zealand’s innings came apart. Hazlewood ended with six wickets to his name, ensuring his side snatched back the initiative from New Zealand’s grasp with the wickets of Broom, Neesham, Milne, Santner and Trent Boult to add to the early wicket of Guptill. New Zealand were bowled out with still an over remaining in their innings.
New Zealand will rue having made only 291, when a total in excess of 315 looked a sound possibility. Only time will tell if they will feel the way Bangladesh felt after their game on Thursday (June 1) night.—AFP