Updated: Jun 25, 2021
New Zealand 249 (Conway 54, Williamson 49, Shami 4-76) and 140 for 2 (Williamson 52*, Taylor 47, Ashwin 2-17) beat India 217 (Rahane 49, Kohli 44, Jamieson 5-31) and 170 (Pant 41, Southee 4-48) by eight wickets
Both New Zealand and India were craving for an ICC title for a very long time. On the reserve day of the WTC final, it was New Zealand who had the last laugh. The Blackcaps were terrific with both bat and ball. The New Zealand pacers were accurate, bowled full and at the right areas. They bundled out India on 217 and 170 in their two innings.
Experienced campaigners Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor made sure the team don’t make a mockery of a low target and chased it down with ease. On the other end, India would be disappointed to endure a horrendous performance with both bat and ball. The Men in Blue have been ruthless over the last two years in Test Cricket. However, once again on the day of the finals of an ICC event, Virat Kohli and men couldn’t script history. As an Indian fan to see the team going down in yet another final is a hard pill to swallow.
First Session - Kyle Jamieson at work again
India came up to bat on the reserve day of the WTC final with a sole motive, i.e., to win the game and there was no other thought besides that. Knowing the fact that there was a little possibility of a draw keeping in mind New Zealand’s potent fast bowling attack, India didn’t look to see out the day and rather went attacking.
Did it work? No, rather it went completely wrong. Both Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara showed intent right from the start. They looked to guide the ball in the gaps on all the loose deliveries. However, Kyle Jamieson once again became a roadblock. His bounce and accuracy were too good to attack.
He put pressure on the duo and in a bid to accelerate, Virat Kohli nicked a short of a length delivery outside off stump through to the keeper. With that, Jamieson accounted for Kohli’s wicket for the second time in the game. Kohli’s wicket early in the day dampened the spirits of all Indian fans. However, India didn’t change their batting approach.
Jamieson, in his next over, sent Pujara packing as well and left India reeling at 72 for 4. The Indian batsman edged the ball to the first slip to Ross Taylor, getting out after making 15 off 80. In a WTC final against New Zealand, you expect two of the best Indian batsmen to stand up to the occasion and play anchor. However, India’s failure in the knockouts continues to haunt them.
Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane tried to develop a partnership. Rishabh Pant looked like playing a T20 game, who rode his luck during an 88-ball 41. The duo was steadily accelerating the innings before Rahane glanced the ball to fine leg only for Watling to take the catch behind the wicket. India lost half of their wickets for 109 runs. At Lunch, India were 130 for 5.
Second Session - India lost their last five wickets for 28 runs
India’s last five wickets fell for just 28 runs. While the New Zealand tailenders frustrated India and took them to a commanding position in the first Innings, India went the other way.
Jadeja got out on 16 off Wagner in the 63rd over, Pant got out on 41 in the 70th over. Pant’s dismissal certainly draws a lot of question marks as one would wonder what was the point dancing down the track to be aggressive and that too when half of the side was back in the hut and more so when he was the last recognized batsman left. Ashwin, Shami and Bumrah didn’t get too long to get out as India were bowled out for 170 in 73 overs.
Tim Southee was the pick of the bowlers in the second innings, picking up 4-48. Kyle Jamieson, who was eventually named Man of the Match, returned figures of 2-30 in the second innings which meant that his match figures read 7-61. Trent Boult also picked up three wickets.
Kane Williamson's Captaincy:
One has to appreciate Kane Williamson’s role on the field, who was brilliant in making bowling changes and field placements. Persistent attack with the seamers and great use of his resources worked wonders for the Kiwis. It was the seamers who put the ball in the right areas and got their side the wickets but Williamson always had the proper plans and field placements for the respective batsmen.
Calm and composed Williamson, allow his bowlers freedom to express themselves however tough the conditions are. Executing all the plans discussed in team meetings aren't easy, he did it to the perfection at WTC Final.
New Zealand needed 139 runs to win the World Test Championship final:
India’s bowlers did have a very low total to defend but there was still help from the surface. India attacked with Ishant and Shami upfront this time, but to no avail. While Shami continued to offer good deliveries, Ishant and Bumrah, who came in first change, just couldn’t apply pressure from the other end. There were a lot of bad deliveries on offer, particularly from Jasprit Bumrah, who had a forgettable outing on Wednesday.
Ravichandran Ashwin kindled some hope after sending both the openers back to the hut but no wicket fell thereafter. Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 2 for 17 in 10 overs.
However, the fast bowlers just couldn’t step up to the task. Having said that, one shouldn’t take any credit away from New Zealand for the way they batted in the fourth innings. The resilient Kane Williamson led the way, scoring an unbeaten half-century, while senior batter Ross Taylor scored 47 off 100 balls and he eventually hit the winning runs.
It is apt that when New Zealand did win the WTC, Williamson and Taylor, who have the highest partnership runs (3875) in Tests for their country against any team, were there at the crease. They added 96* which was the 19th fifty-plus stand between them.
Going on the attack while batting backfired for India
In retrospect, on a good batting surface where the ball wasn’t doing as much as on Day 5, India perhaps could have played a lot better than what they did on the reserve day. Going on the attack right from the start backfired.
“They put us under pressure throughout the Test and did extremely well to win. It was difficult to get momentum on Day 2, and we did really well with the ball in the first innings. This morning was the difference where their bowlers executed their plans to perfection and didn't give us scoring opportunities. We were 30-40 short of giving them a good target.” Virat Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
Three pacers or four pacers – What could have been the ideal bowling combination?
Perhaps, one could argue that India should have played one more fast bowler in Mohammed Siraj given how the three fast bowlers bowled in the match. However, Virat Kohli thought otherwise and went in with three pacers and two spinners.
“I don't regret announcing my XI beforehand, because you need an all-rounder in the side but we made a unanimous decision that these are the best eleven players we can take into the park.” Kohli said after the match.
Nonetheless, going forward, India would look to forget about history and focus on what’s ahead. The first Test of the five-match Test series between India and England starts on August 4 at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.