NZ edge gripping third day against India in World Test Championship finalon June 20, 2021 at 6:23 pm

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New Zealand wrestle the initiative from India on a fascinating third day of the World Test Championship final in Southampton.

India 217: Rahane 49, Kohli 44; Jamieson 5-31
New Zealand 101-2: Conway 54, Latham 30
India lead by 116 runs
Scorecard

The Black Caps battled through India’s constant pressure to close on 101-2, 116 runs behind in Southampton.

India began in a good position at 146-3 but lost captain Virat Kohli lbw to Kyle Jamieson in the third full over of the day for his overnight score of 44.

Jamieson took a superb 5-31, including the wickets of Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah in consecutive balls.

Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who foolishly succumbed to Neil Wagner’s short-ball trap, top scored with 49 in India’s 217 all out.

New Zealand openers Devon Conway and Tom Latham then grittily repelled India’s attack, putting on 70 before Latham hit spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to Kohli at short extra cover.

In the day’s closing moments, Ishant boosted India by prising out left-hander Conway for 54, two balls before the players were taken off for bad light.

It left the showpiece final tightly poised, with New Zealand slight favourites to be crowned as the International Cricket Council’s first Test world champions.

But, more rain is forecast on Monday which, along with the time already lost to the weather, may prevent either side being able to force a win – even with the addition of a sixth day.

Test comes to life on fascinating day

Day three showed how these sides are capable of providing an encounter fitting of the occasions after two frustrating days – the first washed out entirely and the second blighted by bad light.

New Zealand’s bowlers – the 6ft 8ins Jamieson in particular – were exceptional.

There were as many maidens as runs in the first half hour and New Zealand’s slip fielders backed up the bowling brilliantly.

After Rishabh Pant had first been tied down and then tempted into a wild drive to become Jamieson’s third victim, caught at second slip for four, Ashwin provided a brief counter-attack. His 27-ball 22 took India to a respectable total given the conditions.

It was soon New Zealand’s turn to be probed under cloudy skies – the vocal, 3,000-strong crowd engaged in the contest.

Shami was the most impressive of India’s vaunted attack on his return following injury, and twice came close to having Latham caught in the gully.

Eventually, the left-hander’s wicket came as a surprise when, shortly after drinks and on 32, he drove a slightly slower ball from Ashwin and Kohli took a smart catch above his head.

India continued to press for wickets, Bumrah bowling a good spell, and were rewarded late on through pace bowler Ishant.

Conway, rarely troubled previously, skewed a flick off his pads to mid-on as the darkness closed in.

Jamieson wins Kohli duel

Jamieson’s performance continued his remarkable start to Test cricket.

He has taken five five-wicket hauls in his first eight Tests, a feat only six men have achieved since the First World War.

Bowling from a towering height, he was metronomic and trapped Kohli in front of the stumps with a ball that nipped back off the seam.

It was an intriguing battle with a player signed by Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise for the India Premier League earlier this year.

During the pace bowler’s stint with RCB, Kohli suggested that he and Jamieson have a red-ball net, but Jamieson declined – with the intimation that he did so to prevent India’s superstar batsman getting a closer look at his action.

Jamieson’s line, awkward bounce, and movement in the air and off the pitch proved too good for Ishant, who edged to first slip, and Bumrah, who fell lbw first ball, although last man Mohammed Shami denied the 26-year-old a hat-trick by driving his first delivery through extra cover for four.

‘Jamieson is just getting better’ – reaction

Ex-New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney on BBC Test Match Special: “The game is poised. I know New Zealand haven’t lost loads of wickets today, but Taylor and Nicholls are still a bit uncertain and the same thing could happen to New Zealand as what happened to India this morning.

“Jamieson is just getting better every time he plays. He’s not the quickest but it’s the height that creates such an awkward bounce.”

New Zealand bowler Kyle Jamieson, speaking to Sky Sports: “I still don’t think Test cricket has come easily. I ride the coat-tails of the other guys. The pressure they build up, I ride on. It means if we can keep doing that, one of us comes away with some wickets.”

India opener Shubman Gill: “[Conway] was a crucial wicket for us. When the play will start tomorrow, we’ll have a slight edge on them because both of them [batsmen] are relatively new on the crease.”

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