New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor used all their experience and played a few very stylish shots as they guided their team to the World Test Championship title with an 8-wicket win in Southampton against India. This after the Kiwi pacers forced the issue in the morning session of the Reserve day before rolling over India for 170 in the second innings.
NZ needed 139 runs to win from 53 overs and survived a spell of pressure after R Ashwin removed the openers, before their two most experienced batters took charge of the situation. The duo put on a stand of 96 runs to help NZ to the Test Mace.
While Williamson finished with an unbeaten 52, Taylor had 47 to his name. Taylor hit the winning runs off Mohammed Shami. Unfortunately for India, Ishant Sharma went off just before the end.
This was also BJ Watling’s final Test. The game was also marred with heavy rain as two days were washed out.
Earlier in the day, Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson led the way as a sublime bowling performance from NZ saw them roll over India for 170 to put themselves in an advantageous position.
NZ Survive Scare During Chase
India’s pacers and a noisy slip cordon were hoping to trouble the openers Devon Conway (19) and Tom Latham (9) however both were unmoved, up until Tea at least, giving the Kiwis a steady start.
After the break, R Ashwin took charge for India with the ball and was quick to send the openers packing in quick time. In between Ashwin got the decision in his favour against Kane Williamson as well but a review saved the NZ captain from a LBW decision.
Williamson, who was joined by Ross Taylor at the fall of the second wicket, then dropped anchor as they absorbed the pressure.
The two experienced batters were in no rush and waited patiently for the bad balls and even copped a few blows on the body but did not flinch or concede an inch.
Once the duo got their eye in, they made it look easy, playing elegant shots on both sides of the field as India’s shoulders started to drop.
India had a massive chance to put more pressure on the batters when Taylor edged one off Jasprit Bumrah but Cheteshwar Pujara in first slip could not hold on to an easy catch. Taylor was on 27 at the time.
NZ needed 35 runs in the final hour and Williamson almost lost his wicket to Mohammed Shami but survived as Jasprit Bumrah failed to hold on to a tough chance.
While Williamson finished with an unbeaten 52, Taylor had 47 to his name. Taylor hit the winning runs off Shami.
India’s Troublesome Morning Session
The Kiwis jolted India twice in the opening half hour as Jamieson sent Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara on their way. The overnight batsmen started the day with India at 64/2 but Jamieson’s double whammy reduced them to 72/4 in no time.
On a bright and sunny morning in Southampton, Kohli (13) was set up commendably well by the lanky quick. A barrage of inswingers zeroing on the pads before serving one in the fifth stump channel to draw the edge. Pujara (15) then followed suit, nicking to first slip as India lost the plot.
Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant seemed to have steadied the ship with their contrasting methods, building a 37-run stand but Trent Boult prized out Rahane to peg India back again. The senior pro was strangled down the leg as India slid to 117/5 before Pant and Jadeja arrived to their rescue. India went into the Lunch break with the lead at 98 and their last recognised batting pair battling hard.
India Fall Apart in Afternoon Session
After the Lunch break, the task on hand for Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja was to bat time. However, neither were in the mood to curb their attacking instincts as they battled against a hostile bowling attack.
The two left-handed batters, who added 31 runs for the 6th wicket, were not able to keep out the Kiwi bowlers. Jadeja was the first to be dismissed after the lunch break as Neil Wagner caught the outside edge and BJ Watling completed a simple catch for 16.
India, who are no stranger to pressure in away Tests, had R Ashwin and joining Pant. The right-hander looked to attack the short balls as Pant too tried to break the shackles.
But as had been the trend through the day, NZ struck right in time, with Boult removing Pant (41) and Ashwin (7) in the space of a few deliveries. While tried the big heave-ho and holed out near the point boundary, well caught by Henry Nicholls, Ashwin was caught by Ross Taylor.
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah added a few lusty blows and stretched the lead to 138. Interestingly, the half-century in the first three innings of the game has been by Devon Conway in NZ’s first innings.
Weather Forecast For Reserve Day
Rain has thrown a dampener every now and then in this high-stakes affair, but whenever the weather has ushered uninterrupted play at Southampton, the quality of cricket has been top-notch. So much so that neither of the three results can be ruled out heading into the ultimate day at Hampshire Bowl. It would be interesting to see whether the finalists play it safe and settle for a draw or chance their arm and take a shot at outright victory.
The cheerful news is that the forecast is clear and there is little scope for rain on the Reserve Day in Southampton. In all likelihood, the full quota of 98 overs should be completed without any interruptions.
Day 5 Recap: Shami’s Brilliance, Southee’s All-Round Exploits
Mohammed Shami’s stellar four-wicket-haul reduced New Zealand to 249 in their first innings, with Devon Conway top-scoring at 54 and skipper Kane Williamson falling one short of a gritty half-century. Although, the Kiwi tail wagged against the exhausted Indian pace trio and helped zoom the lead to 32, with Tim Southee striking two boundaries and a six in his quickfire 30. Ishant Sharma bagged three scalps, while spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja walked away with two and one respectively.
In response, India have posted 64/2 on the board in their second innings, not only wiping out the deficit but also taking a 32-run lead in the process. Although the prized wickets of openers Shubman Gill (8) and Rohit Sharma (30) gave the upper hand to New Zealand, both perishing to frontline pacer Southee.
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