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Australia were touted as one team with the most exciting and attacking bowling lineup going into the ICC Champions Trophy, which began on June 1. But on Friday, the early impressions weren’t great by the two-time champions. Instead of going in with all four pacers, Australia opted to include Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in the team. However, their impact in the first game of the tournament was largely poor. Luke Ronchi (65 from 43 balls) and Kane Williamson (100 from 97 balls) dismantled the pace attack and left Australia in trouble even with rain spoiling chances of a complete contest. In the end, though, the contest was washed out with incessant rain at Edgbaston.
New Zealand were eventually bowled out for 291 runs in 45 overs with the contest reduced to 46 overs. Starc bowled nine overs and went for 52 runs. Cummins, on the other hand, conceded 67 runs in nine overs with one wicket to his name.
No surprise then that skipper Steve Smith was disappointed with the bowling effort and called it to be ordinary. “I thought it was probably one of the worst bowling displays that we’ve put on for a very long time. We bowled on both sides of the wicket. We gave them a lot of freebies and it was pretty ordinary, to be honest with you,” he said in the post match press conference.
The exception to this rule though was Hazlewood. He finished with 6 for 52 and was a vital factor in New Zealand finishing cheaper than they could have. The effort is best for Australia in the Champions Trophy and career-best for Hazlewood. He pointed out where the team erred. “I think especially the first 10 to 15 overs, we bowled too full and both sides of the wicket. In England, you’ve got to bowl fairly straight,” said Hazlewood.
“We were too wide outside off a lot of the time, whether we were short or full. We obviously missed that practice match the other day (against Pakistan, which was rained out) to give a few boys a run. In the end, that probably came back to get us, but we’ve obviously got to be better in these shorter tournaments from ball one,” he added.
Given the short nature of the Champions Trophy, both teams would most likely need to win their remaining two matches to progress into the semis. Australia face Bangladesh up next at the Oval while New Zealand face England at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.