The famously fickle English weather hadn't hurt the Champions Trophy much over its first six days, but struck in the crucial trans-Tasman match to leave Australia and New Zealand with split points. New Zealand were 51 for 2 after 15 overs in their chase of 244 when play was interrupted, and couldn't resume.
It is hard to tell whether either team will be happy with the split points. New Zealand were in a marginally worse position in the match, and the point from here means even a washout in their final league game could be enough to take them to the elimination rounds. Australia, having lost their first game, will probably be more aggrieved. They got their first point of the campaign but could still be out before they play their next, and final, match if England and New Zealand win the other two games in the group.
The solitary point didn't brighten Australia's mood on a day which had begun on a dismal note as their regular opener David Warner was stood down from the match after news emerged of an altercation with an England player in a Birmingham bar over the weekend.
Things worsened for them after the match got underway as Shane Watson, Australia's most dangerous batsman and one of only two players in the side to have played more than 50 ODIs, was caught behind in the second over. Soon after, Phillip Hughes was run-out, caught short by an underarm flick from Martin Guptill.
In walked George Bailey, the stand-in captain who seems to get scant respect despite a solid start to his one-day career, and he set about righting the innings with Matthew Wade, who was promoted to the top of the order to replace Warner. Their 64-run stand wasn't the most exciting to watch but against a disciplined New Zealand attack which thrived despite not getting much movement on a cloudy day, it steadied the early jitters.
When talk turns to the causes for optimism in New Zealand, it usually centres on the promising pace attack that has emerged. Tim Southee had an off day, and Mitchell McClenaghan continued to hoover up wickets - his fourth four-wicket haul in nine ODIs so far - but the biggest impact was made by New Zealand's spinners on a slowing track at Edgbaston.
Daniel Vettori, passed fit after struggling with his long-standing Achilles tendon problem, was his usual accurate self, not turning it big but slipping in the arm ball to keep the batsmen guessing. Nathan McCullum, the Man of the Match in the tense win against Sri Lanka, also proved hard to hit and he got the wickets of both Wade and Bailey at crucial junctures. Kane Williamson, a part-timer who is being increasingly used by New Zealand, bowled almost unchanged from the 29th over till the end of the innings, and his figures were dented only by a Glenn Maxwell onslaught in the penultimate over. All three bowled out their full quota, and their 30 overs was the most spin New Zealand have ever been sent down in an ODI.
Bailey played a series of crisp, uncomplicated drives down the ground against the quicks, but even he had trouble against the slower bowlers, making only 14 off 37 deliveries from Vettori. It was Adam Voges, another man who has had to wait a long time to get an extended run for Australia, who provided the impetus after the spinners choked the runs early on.
Voges nearly chipped a return catch to Nathan McCullum when on 2, and watchfully worked the singles after that, only opening out once the quick bowlers came back. Southee was driven for consecutive fours as he searched for swing, and McClenaghan was guided to fine leg for successive fours as well. More than those fours it was the steady singles that pushed the innings along, with Voges limiting the number of dot balls.
Bailey and Voges put on 77 to give Australia a launchpad, before Bailey was bowled trying to work the ball to the on side by moving across, before the batting Powerplay. Australia couldn't hit top gear as McCullum and Williamson kept things tight, and Voges fell soon after the Powerplay to a full toss that he miscued to short cover. It was left to Maxwell to throw his bat around at the death to lift Australia to 243, a score which should have test New Zealand on a surface where stroke-making was proving difficult.
The rain allowed only an hour of the chase, by when New Zealand had lost both their openers, but with neither team having taken a firm grip on the game.