Saturday 22 March 2014 

McCullum Muscles New Zealand Over the Line In Rain-Hit Game

Brendon McCulljm hits out
Brendon McCullum hit a six just as the rain began to fall.
© REUTERS/Andrew Biraj. Picture Supplied by Action Images
 

New Zealand 52-1 (Williamson 24no) beat
England 172-6 (Anderson 2-32) by 9 runs (D/L)
ICC World Twenty20 2014 Group 1, Chittagong
Scorecard

A brace of sixes from New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, hit off his opposite number Stuart Broad in the fifth over of the Black Caps’ run chase, proved crucial. It took the score to 47 for one. Two balls later it started to rain and the players didn’t get back on. McCullum’s maximums had taken New Zealand ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis par score by nine runs and ensured that they got their ICC World Twenty20 campaign off to a winning start.

England, meanwhile, were left to deal with yet another Twenty20 International defeat despite posting a seemingly competitive total of 172 for six after being asked to bat, as Michael Lumb, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler each made at least 30. They had lost what, because of the anticipated dew, had the potential to be an important toss. However, precipitation of a different kind would prove to be their undoing.

New Zealand’s opening pair of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson advanced the score to 29 midway through the fourth over, before Guptill was caught at mid-on by Chris Jordan, mistiming a pull-shot off Jade Dernbach when on 11. McCullum then came in and almost immediately dispatched Broad for six. Then, with thunder in the background, he did so again to take New Zealand ahead at the crucial moment.

England’s day had begun with the news that Luke Wright would be the third player to return home from their original 15-man squad after failing to recover from a side strain. He will be replaced by Craig Kieswetter and follows Joe Root and Ben Stokes in withdrawing from the squad because of injury. They then lost the toss and saw Alex Hales sent packing third ball by Kyle Mills - returning captain Broad must have wondered what he had let himself in for.

Fortunately, things improved, as Lumb and Ali took the score to a healthy 55 by the end of the powerplay. They continued to bat fluently until falling in quick succession. Ali pulled a Corey Anderson slower ball to Mitchell McClenaghan at deep mid-wicket when on 36 off 23 balls, with Lumb then falling to the same player combination, albeit in reverse order. He was spectacularly caught by Anderson off McClenaghan (1-22) for 33 off 24 balls.

Vice-captain Eoin Morgan came and went without making too much of an impression as Tim Southee (1-46) picked him up for 12. That left the attention focused on Buttler and, for a while, he didn’t disappoint. He had hit four boundaries before giving the impressive Anderson his second wicket at a key moment in the game. At 129 in the 16th over and with their finisher at the crease, England would have been eyeing a total in excess of 180. However, it was left to the increasingly dependable Ravi Bopara (24 not out off 19 balls) and a couple of meaty blows from Tim Bresnan (17 not out off 8 balls) to take them to their eventual 172 for six.

Anderson was the pick of the New Zealand attack with two for 32 from four overs and would be named man of the match, although, thanks to the rain and McCullum’s timely maximums, he wouldn’t be needed with the bat. New Zealand will hope to build on this victory when they play today’s other vanquished team, South Africa, on Monday. England, meanwhile, have a tricky contest against the Proteas’ conquerors, Sri Lanka, to look forward to on Thursday.

© Cricket World 2014