India captain Kohli blunts New Zealand in World Test Championship finalon June 19, 2021 at 5:48 pm

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India captain Virat Kohli keeps New Zealand at bay but more bad weather blights the second day of the World Test Championship final in Southampton.

India 146-3 (Kohli 44*, Rohit 34; Jamieson 1-14)
New Zealand: Yet to bat

After the entire first day was washed out, only 64.4 overs were possible on day two with India ending 146-3.

Put into bat in gloomy, bowler-friendly conditions, openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill made a dazzling start, only to fall in quick succession for 32 and 28 respectively.

India were 88-3 when Cheteshwar Pujara was out lbw to Trent Boult but Kohli held firm against the Black Caps’ all-seam attack with a watchful 44 not out from 124 balls.

Kohli, cheered on by a crowd reduced in numbers but heavily in his side’s favour, continued through two stoppages for bad light but a third at 16:50 BST, and subsequent rain, prevented further play.

Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane accompanied Kohli to the close with a more expansive 29 not out.

The frustrations of the weather interruptions are at least countered by the option of a sixth, reserve day for this showpiece final.

The winners will be crowned the first Test world champions but if no result is a possible the two teams will be named joint winners.

India edge battling beginning

As the crowd of around 3,000 spectators booed, Kohli will have left the field content with his side’s showing.

India could easily have folded given the conditions and the fact this was their first competitive day’s cricket of the tour, which also includes five Tests against England, while New Zealand are hardened by their series win over Joe Root’s side.

The Black Caps began in slightly wayward fashion and Rohit and Gill capitalised. Rohit timed the ball to the off-side boundary in his typical, graceful style while Gill cracked boundaries square of the wicket and down the ground.

New Zealand soon improved, however.

Tim Southee, the bowler most guilty early on, scooped a fine low catch diving to his right at third slip as the miserly Kyle Jamieson dismissed Rohit. Neil Wagner, selected over spinner Ajaz Patel, had Gill caught behind with his third ball leaving the score 63-2.

India fans

From there New Zealand squeezed. Pujara took 51 minutes to get off the mark and when he did it resulted in one of the loudest cheers of the day.

Kohli batted within himself, only hitting one four in his two-hour knock. His most concerning moment came in a confusing incident when, on 17, he appeared to be given out caught down the leg side off Boult.

New Zealand appealed and, after not giving an initial decision, umpire Richard Illingworth gave a soft signal of out and asked to check the catch had been taken cleanly by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Replays showed Watling had comfortably taken the ball but Ultra Edge confirmed Kohli had missed the ball and he was able to continue.

‘You would have to give the day to India’ – reaction

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “The cricket we had was fascinating. We just didn’t have enough of it. Kohli played very circumspectly.”

Former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney: “You would have to give the day to India. Winning the toss, you would like more than three wickets. Runs on the board will count. We will find wickets fall in clumps at some point in the game.

“New Zealand were wayward in the first hour. Well done India for taking advantage of that. Kohli and Rahane batted very well indeed.”

New Zealand bowler Kyle Jamieson: “It is probably pretty even at the moment. The disruptions probably didn’t help some of the momentum we were trying to get.

“They played really well, put away the bad balls and were patient outside off. We were able to keep things relatively restricted and grab three important wickets.”

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