Kohli keeps New Zealand at bay in World Test final

By: AFP      Published: 05:01 PM, 19 Jun, 2021
Kohli keeps New Zealand at bay in World Test final

India captain Virat Kohli held firm in the face of accurate pace bowling as New Zealand fought back in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton on Saturday.

After Friday's first day was washed out without a ball bowled, India had reached 120-3 when bad light led the umpires to take the players off for an early tea on the second day -- a decision greeted by jeers from the crowd given the floodlights were on full beam.

Kohli was 35 not out and Ajinkya Rahane 13 not out, with towering New Zealand paceman Kyle Jamieson having miserly figures of 1-14 in 12 overs.

Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill took India to 62-0 after New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss in overcast conditions that assisted his pace attack.

But India lost three wickets either side of lunch to be 88-3.

Their position might have been worse had star batsman Kohli been given out caught behind down the legside off left-arm quick Trent Boult on 17.

But amid some on-field confusion, an umpire review led to replays that indicated Kohli had not hit the ball. 

Rohit and Gill made a fine start amid New Zealand's swing and seam, even if a still-wet outfield meant they did not always get full value for their shots.

Sharma confidently clipped the first ball of the match, from Tim Southee, off his pads for three while Gill showed his class by driving Jamieson down the ground for four.

Gill, however, had a nasty moment on 23 when hit flush on the helmet by a Jamieson delivery that leapt off a good length.

Stylish Rohit 

Rohit brought up the 50 partnership with a stylish cover-driven four off all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.

The openers' form was all the more impressive given this was India's first Test since March whereas only last week New Zealand completed a 1-0 series win over England with an eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston. 

But Rohit's 68-ball innings, featuring six fours, ended when he edged a late-swinging delivery from Jamieson to third slip where Southee held an excellent low catch, diving to his right.

Gill followed soon afterwards for 28, edging aggressive left-armer Neil Wagner to BJ Watling in what the New Zealand wicketkeeper has said will be his last match before retirement.

It took Cheteshwar Pujara 51 minutes and 36 balls to get off the mark, with his cut four off de Grandhomme greeted by huge cheers from India fans in the crowd.

But, as happened several times during India's come-from-behind series win in Australia this year, Pujara was hit on the helmet by a bouncer after missing an intended pull off Wagner.

His painstaking eight off 54 balls ended when he was lbw to a Boult inswinger that cut back sharply off the pitch.

But although the run-rate had slowed, there was plenty of time left in a Test where match referee Chris Broad can institute a reserve sixth day to compensate for overs lost to bad weather earlier in the game.

This match, the culmination of two years of series between the leading Test nations, is worth $1.6 million to the winners and $800,000 to the runners-up.

The India team were wearing black armbands Saturday as a mark of respect for Milkha Singh following the national track legend's death from Covid-19 at the age of 91.

 India were left looking to captain Virat Kohli after New Zealand struck twice in quick succession to end their promising start in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton on Saturday.

After rain meant Friday's first day was washed out without a ball bowled, Rohit Sharma and Shumban Gill shared a fifty stand after New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss in overcast conditions that promised to assist his powerful pace attack.

But both openers fell shortly before lunch on the second day, with India 69-2 at the interval.

Kohli was six not out and the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara unbeaten on nought.

First-change Kyle Jamieson made the breakthrough when he dismissed Rohit for 34 and the towering paceman had miserly figures of 1-10 in seven overs at lunch.

India's 62-1 soon became 63-2 when Gill was caught behind off left-arm paceman Neil Wagner for 28.

Rohit and Gill made an excellent start amid New Zealand's swing and seam, even if a still-wet outfield meant they did not always get full value for shots and the switched-on floodlights added to the difficulty of batting against a red ball.

Sharma confidently clipped the first ball of the match, from Tim Southee, off his pads for three before hitting him for two fours in the seventh over.

Gill showed his class by driving Jamieson down the ground for four.

But he had a nasty moment on 23 when hit flush on the grille of his helmet by a seaming delivery from Jamieson that leapt off a good length.

Rohit, to the delight of India's vocal supporters in the ground, brought up the fifty partnership with a stylish cover-driven four off all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.

The openers' form was all the more impressive given this was India's first test since March whereas only last week New Zealand completed a 1-0 series win over England with an eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston. 

But Rohit's 68-ball innings featuring six fours ended when he edge a late-swinging delivery from Jamieson to third slip where Southee held an excellent low catch, diving to his right.

Gill followed soon afterwards for 28, edging Wagner to BJ Watling in what the New Zealand wicketkeeper has said will be his last match before retirement.

While a standard men's Test lasts a maximum of five days, this fixture can be extended into a sixth day should match referee Chris Broad decide that is the only way to make up time lost to bad weather.

This match, the culmination of two years of series between the leading Test nations that ended with New Zealand qualifying ahead of India, is worth $1.6 million to the winners and $800,000 to the runners-up.

The India team lined-up for the pre-match national anthems all wearing black armbands as a mark of respect following the death of national track legend Milkha Singh at the age of 91.

Singh, a four-times Asian Games gold medallist who was dubbed the 'Flying Sikh', died from Covid-19 in a hospital in the north Indian city of Chandigarh late Friday.

New Zealand bowl against India in World Test Championship final

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to field against India in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton on Saturday.

After rain meant Friday's opening day was washed out without a ball bowled, the sky remained overcast with the Hampshire Bowl's floodlights already on -- conditions that promised to favour New Zealand's impressive seam attack.

"With the conditions, a bit of weather around, hopefully we can make the most of it first up, get a bit of seam movement," Williamson said at the toss.

"We've gone for four frontline seamers and Colin de Grandhomme as our all-rounder, so no spinner," he added.

"It's a great occasion and challenge against the best team in the world. It's great to be here for the first World Test Championship final and the guys are excited."

While India captain Virat Kohli said he too would have fielded had he won the toss, the outstanding run-getter was buoyed by the depth of batting in a side also featuring Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant.

Runs on the board

"We would have probably bowled first looking at the conditions but runs on the board has been our strength, we bat deep," Kohli said.

"It's a big final, runs on the board are a bit of an advantage first up.

"The balance of our side is such that we prepare for conditions which might change or vary, our two spinners can bowl in any conditions," he added.

New Zealand made four changes to the side that beat England by eight wickets at Edgbaston last week to complete a 1-0 win in a two-Test series.

Star batsman Williamson was passed fit after missing that match to rest a longstanding elbow injury.

And veteran wicketkeeper BJ Watling, for whom this will be his last match before retirement, returned after missing the Edgbaston match with a sore back.

New Zealand opted against deploying a specialist spinner, with Ajaz Patel dropping out of the team and towering quick Kyle Jamieson recalled.

Matt Henry, despite his six-wicket match haul at Edgbaston, was left out as spearhead quick Tim Southee returned after being rested. 

Meanwhile, Colin de Grandhomme was selected in place of fellow all-rounder Daryl Mitchell. 

India, who last played a Test in March, stuck by the team they announced on Thursday, with pacemen Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja all included in the same XI for the first time.

While a standard men's Test lasts a maximum of five days, this fixture can be extended into a sixth day should match referee Chris Broad decide that is the only way to make up time lost earlier in the game to bad weather.

This fixture, the culmination of two years of series between the leading Test nations that ended with New Zealand qualifying ahead of India, is worth $1.6 million to the winners and $800,000 to the runners-up.

Teams

India: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli (capt), Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wkt), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wkt), Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult