Birmingham: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made exactly 100 before rain saw his side’s Champions Trophy opener against Australia at Edgbaston on Friday end in a no-result washout.
This was an identical outcome to when the teams met at the Birmingham ground in the last edition four years ago.
Australia, who were left needing a revised target of 235 to win in 33 overs, were 53 for three off nine when the players left the field for the final time.
A minimum of 20 overs had to be bowled in Australia’s innings for a result to be declared but the last downpour was so severe there was no chance of the match resuming in time.
The teams took a point apiece — a result that was arguably of most benefit to Group A rivals England, who launched a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international sides with an eight-wicket win over Bangladesh at the Oval on Thursday.
Only the top two sides from each of the two groups of four qualify for the semi-finals.
New Zealand next play England in Cardiff on Tuesday and Williamson, asked if his side were now “behind the eight-ball”, replied: “I suppose. It is what it is.
“The nature of this tournament is every game is basically knockout-style.
“I think today we played some good cricket, showed some good signs.”
New Zealand were on course for a score well above 300 while Williamson was at the crease in an innings reduced to 46 overs because of the rain.
But his run out sparked a slump that saw the Blackcaps lose their last seven wickets for 37 runs in 35 balls on the way to a total of 291 all out.
Josh Hazlewood was the chief beneficiary as several batsmen holed out, with the fast bowler returning ODI best figures of six for 52.
– ‘Pretty ordinary’ –
Australia had opted against fielding all four of their out-and-out fast bowlers, with James Pattinson the man who missed out on Friday.
Pat Cummins, however, proved expensive, his first five overs costing 52 runs, with New Zealand opener Luke Ronchi severe on the paceman during a dashing 65.
Although they pulled things back later on, Australia captain Steve Smith, celebrating his 28th birthday on Friday, slammed his side’s bowling effort.
“I thought it was probably one of the worst bowling displays that we’ve put on for a very long time,” he said.
“We bowled both sides of the wicket.”
Smith added: “It was pretty ordinary, to be honest with you.
“Kane timed his innings beautifully, but we did not bowl well at all.”
Williamson put on 99 for the third wicket with Ross Taylor (46).
He hoisted experienced seamer John Hastings for a legside six to go into the 90s before a flicked four and single off the same bowler saw him to a 96-ball century, his ninth at this level, with eight fours and three sixes.
But he was then run out by Moises Henriques’s throw to Cummins.
Further rain during the mid-innings break left Australia with a tough new target under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
Trying to force the pace against accurate new-ball bowling, they were soon 35 for two after big-hitting openers David Warner and Aaron Finch fell cheaply.
And when Henriques was caught and bowled by Adam Milne, Australia were three down.
But no sooner had Henriques been dismissed than fresh rain took the players off the field.