Brief Scores: India 146/3 (Virat Kohli 44*, Rohit Sharma 34, Jamieson 1/14) against NZ at stumps on Day Two.
After the scheduled first day of the WTC final got washed out due to rain, the summit clash kicked off on Saturday. New Zealand won the toss and asked India to bat first. The second day of the Test saw close to 65 overs being bowled before umpires ended the day’s play due to bad light.
In Southampton, Team India members wore black armbands to mark the passing away of legendary sprinter Milkha Singh on Friday.
Here’s a look at what happened throughout the day:
First session: India and New Zealand shared the first session
Contrary to what the cricket pundits had predicted, the first hour of the first session of the second day’s play belonged to the Men in Blue. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill both showed a lot of application, mixing caution with aggression against Tim Southee and Trent Boult.
Southee and Boult, perhaps, didn’t start off the proceedings to the best of their ability. The first ball of the WTC final was down to the leg side which Rohit Sharma flicked to deep square leg for three runs. As it turned out, this wasn’t the only time when the New Zealand fast bowler erred in his length in his first spell.
The first 10 overs saw a lack of discipline from New Zealand and the Indian openers didn’t miss out on sending the bad balls to the boundary line. New Zealand, however, came back in the next hour of play. Kyle Jamieson was brought in as the first change and he did help his team shift the momentum. Colin de Grandhomme was brought in from the other end. The duo bowled with a lot of discipline. New Zealand eventually got their first wicket in the form of Rohit Sharma, who was caught at second slip by Tim Southee off a late outswinger by Jamieson in the 21st over with India’s score at 62/1.
Before that delivery, Rohit had done nothing wrong, having overcome the tough phase. He, unfortunately, got out on 34 off 68 balls. His knock included 6 fours which were all hit in the off side. Three overs later, Shubman Gill, who too looked good for his 28 off 64, went back to the pavilion. Left-arm medium pacer Neil Wagner bowled a lovely length ball that slanted in to Gill drawing him into a defensive push, eventually to find the outside edge which was safely pouched by wicketkeeper BJ Watling. Wagner took his first wicket of the match with his third delivery.
Gill’s knock included 3 fours, one of which was a sublime on drive against an over-pitched delivery by Kyle Jamieson. A total of 25 runs out of the 28 scored by Gill were on the on side.
The opening stand of 62 between Rohit and Shubman was the third half-century partnership between them. They had added 70 and 71 runs in the first and second innings, respectively, in the famous drawn SCG Test between India and Australia earlier this year.
In a matter of 4.3 overs, India had slid from 62/0 to 63/2 with the fall of Rohit and Shubman’s wickets. This brought the composed number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and the resolute India captain Virat Kohli on the crease. They saw through the next few overs till lunch and the team found themselves at 69 for 2 after 28 overs at the end of the first session.
Session 2: Virat and Ajinkya Rahane pull India back into the game after losing Cheteshwar Pujara early
Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara stayed watchful for the first 12 overs of the afternoon session. New Zealand asked some tough questions to the experienced duo. The run rate also had an impact as both Kohli and Pujara could amass only 19 runs in 12.2 overs after lunch.
The Blackcaps eventually reaped rewards in the form of Pujara’s wicket. Trent Boult trapped him leg-before with an inswinger as India found themselves in trouble at 88 for 3 after 40.2 overs. Fortunately for India, Kohli looked solid in defence and was playing the ball to its merit. Ajinkya Rahane then joined hands with him but looked scratchy through the initial period. Bad light forced an early Tea with India at 120 for 3 after 55.3 overs.
Session 3: Kohli-Rahane continued India’s charge
However, after the tea break, the session belonged to India as Virat Kohli and Rahane guided the team forward. The duo stayed watchful throughout the next 9.1 overs that were possible in a start-stop manner due to bad light and light drizzles on occasions. India added 26 runs in this session. In conditions aiding swing against some of the best bowlers in international cricket, Kohli and Rahane rebuilt the innings and didn’t play any false shot.
Both the batsmen didn’t hesitate in sending the bad ball to the boundary. Virat Kohli is inching towards his half-century, staying unbeaten at 44 off 124 balls with 37 of his runs coming square off the wicket – 25 in the off side and 12 in the on side. Ajinkya Rahane, on the other hand, is unbeaten at 29 off 79 balls, with 25 of his runs too square off the wicket – 16 in the off side and 9 in the on side.
The duo have added 58* runs so far. This was the 26th fifty plus partnership between the two batsmen who have a total of 3,438 partnership runs between them for India. This haul includes 10 century partnerships with a highest of 365 runs which they added for the fourth wicket against New Zealand in Indore in 2016.
Play was eventually called off at 6.10 PM BST (10.40 PM IST) after the umpires made a final inspection in the middle. It has been a thoroughly engaging and absorbing day of Test cricket fit for the World Test Championship final and one would look forward to more exciting cricket on Day three.
Day 3 Start Time and Southampton Weather Forecast
The period of play will be extended by half an hour on Sunday after the usual start at 10.30 AM (BST) and a possible 98 overs would be bowled, weather permitting. But, the news is sad as there are forecasts of showers on Sunday in Southampton. Rain is likely to play spoilsport. Fans would hope and pray that the rain stays away and the epic battle continues.
In the latest updates, the precipitation levels in Southampton will decrease after the first session according to the current weather data. It is expected to be in the mid 30s from 11 AM to 1 PM and below 30 in the following hours. Bad light still may have to be contended with but floodlights can negate it to some extent like it did on Day 2.
Meanwhile, in Bristol, India Women battled it out well in the only Test against England Women and held them to a draw after number eight batter Sneh Rana (80*) and number 10 batter Taniya Bhatia (44*) added 104* runs for the ninth wicket against a quality England attack. India Women were trailing by 165 runs in the first innings and managed to bat to safety to a score of 344/8 in 121 overs.