ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY 2017: Smith pleased with positives amid rain-marred frustration

Steven Smith’s frustration at seeing Australia miss out on victory by just four overs was tempered by the sight of his side getting rid of their rustiness, as he contemplated what will effectively be a quarter-final against England. Australia were left stranded on 83 for one in pursuit of a target of 183 when rain arrived at The Oval on Monday (June 5), leaving them well on track but for the fact that only 16 overs had been bowled.

Having seen their Champions Trophy opener against New Zealand washed out in Birmingham on Friday, the Australians were left with two points from two games and the prospect of a must-win clash against England at Edgbaston on Saturday. “It was disappointing not to get a win but we can’t do much about the weather and we can’t control that,” Smith reflected. “The equation is pretty simple for us now.”

If the clouds in London had a silver lining for Australia, it was that they put in a much-improved performance, bowling Bangladesh out inside 45 overs as all of their bowlers proved more accurate than they had been against New Zealand. Mitchell Starc was particularly sharp as he took 4 for 29.

“I thought all our bowlers were a lot better today,” said Smith. “We hit some good areas early on and challenged the defence of the Bangladeshi batsmen. Everyone that bowled I thought did a pretty good job today, and it was nice that we were able to turn things around from the way things went in the first game against New Zealand.”

While Smith felt that the groundsmen “perhaps could have shown more urgency” when it took an hour from the time that it stopped raining to a scheduled restart at 8:30 PM, which never took place because it began raining again, he did not have too many complaints about what felt like an unjust end to the match.

As it was, Australia were left to fill the time and do their best to forget the injustice of dominating a game only to be denied by the weather.

“I was actually doing a crossword,” said Smith, who keeps books of crosswords close at hand on tour. “You know, you can’t do much when it’s raining really. You just have to switch off and know that if you do get back on, (you need to) be ready to go from ball one. Rain delays aren’t that much fun to be honest with you.”

The washout left Bangladesh relying on other results to go their way as well as their ability to beat New Zealand in their final match in Cardiff on Friday. As it was, captain Mashrafe Mortaza was happy to take the point that the weather offered up.

“I think even in the 2015 World Cup, we got one point from Australia and went through – it really helped us,” he said. “This time we have a chance. You never know. Straightaway, we have to beat New Zealand and obviously we have to wait for a few results, as well. So our job is to play hard against New Zealand and if we can go through, then you never know.”

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