Indian captain Virat Kohli hasn’t had the most eventful start to his England sojourn with the team as India could not win the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton. After a sensational run in Test cricket in the past few months, the Indian side could not deal with the pressure, with New Zealand managing to do it better than their opponents. Virat Kohli bemoaned the lack of runs in the second innings, hampering their ability to put more pressure on the Black Caps.
India lost the toss on day two; however, they enjoyed a solid opening stand of 62 from Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. India were well placed at 146-3 even after losing Sharma, Gill, and Cheteshwar Pujara. Virat Kohli played extremely well in the testing conditions and stitched a 61-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. Nevertheless, Kohli fell early on day three to Kyle Jamieson and they collapsed to 217 the same day as the towering seamer finished with a fifer.
On the other hand, the Kiwis finished the same day at 101-2, with Devon Conway falling on the third last ball after reaching his fifty. But like the opening day of the final, the fourth day also resulted in a washout due to persistent rains. The fifth day saw the Kiwis dragging themselves to 249, thanks to Kane Williamson’s dogged 49 and handy contributions from the tailenders. It helped them gain a handy 32-run lead and they reduced the Indians to 64-2 by the close.
The reserve or the sixth day was set up for an exciting finish and New Zealand struck early to dismiss Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. Rishabh Pant did his best and top-scored with 41; however, the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja could not make substantial contributions. Furthermore, unlike New Zealand’s tailenders, India’s could not come up with crucial runs at the backend.
After a steady start in pursuit of 139, Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Devon Conway and Tom Latham to give India some hope. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor sustained some close calls of their own; however, they adjusted and started getting the runs and plough the target down. New Zealand’s batting mainstays ensured they gift India no more wickets and took them to the target with eight wickets to spare. Kane Williamson finished with an unbeaten 52 and shared an unbroken 96-run partnership with Ross Taylor.
The first day got washed out, and when play resumed it was difficult to get any momentum: Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli did not shy away from congratulating Kane Williamson and co., crediting them for showing consistency and heart to pull off a win in three days. The 32-year old lamented the lack of momentum, which was difficult to retain due to the bowling-friendly conditions and could have got more runs if not for the interruptions. Virat Kohli further felt India were 30-40 runs short of putting any serious pressure on New Zealand’s batsmen and justified the decision not to play four fast bowlers, claiming they did not have a seam-bowling all-rounder. He heaped praises on Kyle Jamieson, stating he deserves to the man of the match. Virat Kohli also looks forward to the five Tests against England, starting in August and remains confident of doing something special.
“First up, big congratulations to Kane and the whole team. They showed great consistency and heart to pull out a result in just over three days, sticking to their processes to put us under pressure. They deserved the win. The first day got washed out, and when play resumed it was difficult to get any momentum. We lost only three wickets, but we could have got more runs if play had gone on without the interruptions. Today, the Kiwi bowlers executed their plans to perfection and pushed us back, and we were probably 30 or 40 runs short. [On not picking four quicks:] You need to have a fast-bowling allrounder for that. We’ve been successful with this combination in different conditions. We thought this was our best combination, and we had batting depth as well, and if there was more game time, the spinners would have come into the game more as well. [Jamieson] is a quality cricketer. He hits really good areas with the ball and he’s a gutsy batsman as well. He’s had a great game and thoroughly deserved to be Man of the Match. It’s great for the game, the more the Test format is given importance, and the Test format is the heartbeat of the international format. We’re looking forward to the long summer ahead. We’ve got the squad and the quality to do something special,” Virat Kohli told in the post-match presenation.