Birmingham, England: Australia's hopes of retaining the Champions Trophy are hanging by a thread after its match against New Zealand was abandoned on Wednesday because of rain with no result.
Chasing a respectable target of 244, the Kiwis reached 51-2 after 15 overs before rain arrived at Edgbaston. After a pitch inspection nearly three hours later, the match was abandoned by umpires with both teams earning one point.
The result leaves New Zealand top of Group A on three points, ahead of England's match against Sri Lanka on Thursday. Australia is on one point and needs to win its final match, against Sri Lanka on Monday, to stand a chance of advancing to the semifinals and remaining on track to win the tournament for the third straight time.
Without opener David Warner after he was axed for what Cricket Australia labeled an alleged "physical altercation" with an England player in a bar at the weekend, Australia got off to the worst possible start by losing Shane Watson (5) and Phil Hughes (0) to lie on 10-2 after 19 balls.
But George Bailey (55), again standing in as captain for the injured Michael Clarke, and Adam Voges (71) rescued the innings, and Glenn Maxwell's 29 off 22 balls late on gave New Zealand a target that was about par given the previous two group matches to have been played here. Mitchell McGlenaghan took figures of 4-65.
The Australian-born Luke Ronchi (14) and Martin Guptill (8) went cheaply to Clint McKay in New Zealand's reply under cloudy skies, before Kane Williamson (18 not out) and Ross Taylor (9 not out) were forced to scurry off the pitch as the showers came.
Bailey refused to go into too much detail about the incident involving Warner, who faces a Cricket Australia hearing after the alleged altercation with England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar on Saturday. CA reported him for engaging in "behavior unbecoming to a representative player or official that could (a) bring them or the game into disrepute or (b) be harmful to the interests of cricket" and Warner could be sent home from the tour.
"The situation for us was bigger than this (Warner's incident) — it was about making sure we won this game to make sure we stayed in the tournament and play some better cricket than we did against England," Bailey said. "With this sort of result, I'm still not sure we have done that."
New Zealand captain Brendan McCullum was satisfied with his team's display on what he described as "a tough wicket," adding that McGlenaghan's bowling display was "brilliant."
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