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Rain foils Australia’s victory bid

Wisden India logo Wisden India 05-06-2017

© Getty Australia came close to defeating Bangladesh, but the English weather was too tough an opponent to overcome.

In his own words, Steven Smith’s men ‘got away’ thanks to rain against New Zealand in their tournament opener in Birmingham. The London rain gods compensated for that, denying them what seemed like an easy victory on Monday (June 5) at The Oval in their Champions Trophy clash against Bangladesh.

Australia were 83 for 1 in 16 overs – well ahead of the DLS Method par of 39 at that stage – in chase of a paltry target of 183 when rain arrived to kill their chance of gaining full points. All Australia needed was four more overs of play, but much to their agony, they’re now left with a must-win clash against England.

On the other hand, it also meant Bangladesh stayed alive in the tournament after taking home one point from the game.

Full scorecard: Australia vs Bangladesh

Rain was forecast for the evening but for most parts, it seemed like Australia would race ahead of the weather. They did incredibly well to bowl out Bangladesh for 182 in just 44.3 overs and began the chase steadily, despite losing Aaron Finch in the eighth over.

David Warner and Smith seemed well in control but rain returned at around 6.45 pm to force players off. After more than an hour, the game was set to restart at 8.30 pm with a revised target of 172 in 43 overs, but rain arrived once again to have the final say.

That Australia had a shot at victory was because Bangladesh just couldn’t rise to the occasion. Barring Tamim Iqbal, who continued his excellent form with a valiant 95, the rest of the side found Australia’s bowling too hot to handle. Bangladesh also made an interesting choice to bat first despite overcast conditions and rain forecast for later.

Complete coverage: ICC Champions Trophy

Mitchell Starc led the way with 4 for 29, but it was a collective performance from Australia as every bowler played their part. Bangladesh were never allowed to get away at any stage, and only three batsmen got double-digit scores. That one of those was close to triple digits showed Tamim’s grit and form.

But despite Tamim’s fight, the day belonged to Australia’s bowlers.

The tone was set early by Starc and Josh Hazlewood with some aggressive pace and tight lines. Tamim tried to break free and got three early boundaries, but once Soumya Sarkar nicked Hazlewood to the wicketkeeper in the sixth over, things went downhill for Bangladesh.

Like England did in the earlier game, Australia’s pacers targeted Tamim’s ribs and head. The short-ball strategy nearly worked when he gloved and top-edged pulls, but on both occasions, the ball evaded fielders.

Runs were hard to come by too. Only 37 runs came in the first ten overs and the run-rate took a further beating when Imrul Kayes tamely chipped Pat Cummins to point and Mushfiqur Rahim surprisingly chose not to review a leg before decision despite a faint inside edge to Moises Henriques’ straight ball.

By the 17th over, Bangladesh were stuttering at 53 for 3 and went through an 11-over period without a boundary.

Flashback: Team India at the Champions Trophy

ICC Champions Trophy 2017: India’s performance in previous editions; see pics: In the 1998 edition, India made it to the semi-final where they met West Indies in Dhaka. Mohammad Azharuddin’s Indian side scored 242/6 in 50 overs.In reply, Brian Lara-led West Indies chased down the target by 6 wickets and 3 overs to spare.(Source: Express Archive) ICC Champions Trophy 2017: India’s performance in previous editions; see pics

Even Travis Head, the part-time offspinner, dominated Bangladesh’s batsmen with a tidy spell of eight consecutive overs. The only phase when Bangladesh showed some fight was when Shakib Al Hasan joined Tamim. With Shakib showing hints of resistance, Tamim grew in confidence and counter-attacked against the run of play.

After ambling on to 34 off 64 balls, Tamim took to Henriques in a 16-run over with two fours and a six to reach his fifty off 69 balls. The stylish footwork and quick hands once again seemed in full flow when he lifted Head for two inside-out sixes in the 30th over.

But just when the partnership passed 50, Head struck in the same over trapping Shakib leg before despite a review from the batsman. From there on, it was once again a case of Tamim searching for steady company. He found that hard to get but Tamim fought on, seemingly set for another century in the tournament.

However, he fell five runs short in a rather unfortunate fashion when his trademark whip-pull off Starc resulted in a top edge to fine leg. The rest of the line-up was cleaned up by yorker-machine Starc.

The swift finish gave them a sniff, but some things proved beyond Australia’s control.

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