New Zealand in strong position to win World Test Championship final
New Zealand were closing in on a remarkable victory over India in the first World Test Championship, needing 120 runs in the final session on the sixth and last day to win the final.
For so long rain and bad light had threatened to drive this inaugural showpiece to a frustrating draw, but the Black Caps used the reserve day to make their move in rousing fashion.
Their four-pronged seam attack dismissed India for 170, sharing seven wickets for 99 to speed the game towards its conclusion.
That left a chase of 139 in 53 overs to claim the honours – and the GBP 1.2million winner’s cheque, with Devon Conway and Tom Latham reaching 19 without loss at tea.
When play began at 10.30am, all four results were theoretically in play but it did not take the Kiwis long to swing the dial in their favour.
It was 6ft 8in paceman Kyle Jamieson, expertly backing up his first-innings five-for, who imposed himself on the occasion by snaring two prize scalps in a wonderful opening blast.
Within his first four overs he had reduced India from 64 for two to 72 for four – sending key men Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara back in the process.
Kohli will be kicking himself for fencing at a lifter with an inconsequential 13 to his name, handing BJ Watling a gimme with the gloves. It was the second time Jamieson had dismissed his Royal Challengers Bangalore captain in the match and he roared with joy as the catch stuck.
That increased the burden on Pujara, whose ability to soak up long periods of pressure looked to be an important trump card.
But instead of carrying the baton, he dropped it. Jamieson was spot on once again, getting the ball to hold its line a fraction outside off stump and pinging to second slip via a healthy edge.
Jamieson should have had a third success of the spell when new man Rishabh Pant was similarly undone, but this time Tim Southee could not hang on.
Who knows how easily India might have given in had Pant gone for five, but he went on to top-score with 41 and intermittently reduced the pressure with some much-needed boundaries.
His was virtually a lone battle, though, with smart bowling, assertive field placings and calmer heads always advancing the New Zealand cause.
Trent Boult strangled Ajinkya Rahane down leg for 15, Neil Wagner set up Ravindra Jadeja expertly and Southee ruthlessly mopped up a frantic tail to finish with four for 48.
There were eight overs for India’s bowlers to strike back in defence of a slim target but Conway and Latham did not falter.
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