The title of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship was up for grabs on a rare sixth day of action in Southampton. New Zealand were crowned as the first-ever winners of the World Test Championship after defeating India by eight wickets.
Emerging unscathed from the late burst by the New Zealand pacers yesterday, a lot of responsibility was on the shoulders of the backbone of the Indian batting unit, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Given the nature of the weather, not many expected the ball to behave in the air and off the pitch, and the general inclination was in favour of a draw.
However, the Duke’s ball moved slightly bit with the skill of the bowlers. That combined with the lacklustre display by the Indian batsmen paved the door for New Zealand on the final day.
The mainstays of the Indian batting order, Kohli and Pujara were back in the hut within the first hour of the day’s play as Jamieson continued to haunt them again. The all-rounder made the most of his high release point and late movement to fox and draw the ace batsmen forward for their edges.
Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane held the fort in a blend of caution and aggression. They warded off the pace battery to settle while still keeping the scoreboard ticking.
The vice-captain fell to a harmless delivery down the leg side just before lunch to bring Ravindra Jadeja in. The left-handed duo survived the end of the session.
The second session began with a barrage of short bowling around the wicket from Neil Wagner. Both of the batsmen at the crease opted for opposite approaches to combat the searing bouncers by the left-arm pacer.
Jadeja did all the hard work and copped several blows to his body with the bouncers, only to be defeated by a tame delivery outside off stump. He agonizingly departed after a knock of 16 off 49 balls.
The dismissal of the number one all-rounder in tests triggered a collapse, something which has gone on to become common knowledge by now. India were well poised at 142-5 with the lead at 110. In the space of 10 overs, they were packed up at 170 and New Zealand had a target of 139 to win the prestigious mace.
It was a set of starts for the Indian batsmen with Rishabh Pant arguably making the most of it, and playing against his natural instinct to top score. His two-and-a-half-hour stint at the crease resulted in 41 runs off 88 deliveries. This marked the first test in almost three years where the Indian scoreboard was devoid of a fifty.
New Zealand survived an eight-over spell shared by the Indian pacers to walk away for the final break of the test with all their wickets intact.
The resolute duo refused to give India an early breakthrough. Much like the first innings, it was Ashwin who struck first. The off-spinner delivered one more wicket to send both the openers back into the hut with a little less than 100 runs required for the win.
Kane Williamson survived a DRS call and he did not turn back. The skipper took his time along with the experienced Ross Taylor at the other end to send New Zealand across the line with eight wickets to spare.
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