Rain delayed the start by 20 minutes and then returned after one ball of the 16th over to force the sides off the field. With a minimum of 20-overs a side required to constitute a game and the forecast far from encouraging, Australia’s hopes of taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series may be frustrated. The game has to be completed by 10.15pm and at least 24.5 more overs would have to be bowled.
Australia certainly fared better of the two side in the first hour or so of play. Mitchell Johnson, again bowling at a pace in excess of 90 mph, was arguably the most eye-catching of the bowlers but was provided good support from his colleagues.
While Kevin Pietersen flicked his first delivery, the fourth of the game, through midwicket for four, he was involved in a run-out two balls later for which he would have to accept much of the blame.
Struck on the thigh pad, Pietersen called Michael Carberry for a sharp single. Carberry had backed up some distance but, bellowing “no” then watched in horror as Pietersen ran past him to the safety of the non-striker’s end while the bowler, Clint McKay, completed the run out. It appeared both batsmen accepted that sacrificing Carberry was the lesser of two evils, though for a man playing in just his third ODI and with limited opportunities to shine, it may prove to be a significant blow.
The incident appeared to unsettle Pietersen. He played and missed at both McKay and Johnson and then pulled a sharp short ball from Johnson to square leg.
After Pietersen’s early boundary, England failed to hit another until the 10th over. While Jonathan Trott produced a couple of characteristic flicks off the hip, England reached an underwhelming 43 for 2 by the end of the Powerplay.
Joe Root produced one sweet on-driven four off Josh Hazlewood in the next over but, no sooner had Adam Voges been introduced into the attack, than Root pushed one that may have gripped in the pitch back to the bowler.
It could have been worse for England. Trott, falling to the off side as he tried to play a straight one off his legs, was given out lbw when he had scored 13 by umpire Michael Gough. Trott, in hope more than conviction, eventually called for a review of the decision which showed the delivery from Johnson had pitched fractionally outside the leg stump.
It was not Trott’s only nervous moment. Australia utilised their only review on another leg-before appeal, with ball-tracking technology suggesting the delivery from Johnson would have narrowly passed over the stumps – the review upheld Gough’s not-out decision on the basis of umpire’s call. Two balls later, Trott sustained a crunching blow as a short ball from Johnson crashed into the grill of his helmet.
There were a couple of nicely timed boundaries off his legs but, when the time the rain came at 3.34pm, England would have been the happier of the sides to get back to the dressing room.
Earlier Australia had won the toss and chosen to bowl. They made one change to the side that won at Old Trafford, bringing seamer Hazlewood into the team in place of spinner Fawad Ahmed.
Despite criticism about the balance of their side, England named an unchanged XI, meaning Ben Stokes continued as third seamer and No. 8 batsman. Eoin Morgan, the England captain, admitted that he, too, would have bowled first given a choice.
England 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler, 8 Ben Stokes, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Boyd Rankin
Australia 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey, 6 Adam Voges, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Josh Hazlewood