Recent Match Report - India vs New Zealand Final 2019-2021

Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand Final 2019-2021

Day three of the World Test Championship final. Here’s to more riveting cricket from Virat Kohli’s India and Kane Williamson’s New Zealand – just like yesterday. Here’s ESPNcricinfo’s live updates – please refresh your page for the latest.
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Ashwin plays a crucial hand

R Ashwin has missed out on a few selections in recent times on account of being lesser the batter than Ravindra Jadeja these days, but that SCG rearguard has been a bit of a turning point. He batted beautifully in treacherous conditions, dropping his wrists when Neil Wagner bowled short at him and then playing some eye-catching drives on the up. One edge flew over the cordon, but even then he went hard at it, giving a possible edge every chance to fly over. Eventually an edge went straight to second slip, but his 23-run stand with Jadeja took India past 200. That is already a good score in these conditions.

India 205 for 7 in 85.5 overs. Ashwin gone for 22 off 27 balls.


It is a long way down from there

No slip. Two men behind square on the leg side. Two men just in front. One at midwicket. Three balls from Wagner to go before he will likely be taken off because the new ball will be available. Wagner bowls the short ball, Rahane looks to pull, tries to keep it down, but it is a long way down from that awkward chest height. And he is caught at forward square leg some 30 yards from the bat.

It is possibly a miscalculation from Rahane. He doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in New Zealand when they just shut him out with the short ball for hours, but the new ball is just around and this plan is not going to be a prolonged one.

Rahane goes for it, and pays the price after a superb innings whose hallmark was how late he played the ball. The thing with this New Zealand attack is that – on these tracks, mind, and not in Asia – you can exhaust yourself surviving two or three sets of plans and then there is always one more examination. India 182 for 6 in 78.4 overs. Rahane gone for 49 off 117 balls.


12.2 overs, 25 runs, 2 wickets

You will have to call that New Zealand’s morning so far, but Rahane and Jadeja have added 15 in 3.2 overs in this partnership. And this seem likes a pitch where runs will be at a huge premium. India are 171 for 5, which is not a bad score at all given how much the pitch is doing. And it is time for the first drinks break of the day.


Jamieson’s morning

And now Kyle Jamieson has removed Rishabh Pant. A wide tempter, and a shackled Pant has a go at it, edging through to second slip. Pant got off the mark with the 20th ball he faced. And that was because Jamieson went straight looking for the lbw.

This is almost a pitch where you are better off bowling a defensive line, especially when you have a five-man seam attack. Just keep the runs down, and the wicket-taking ball will come. Don’t risk giving away easy runs by going searching. New Zealand have followed that plan this morning, and taken two wickets for 10 runs in nine overs.

India 156 for 5 in 73.4 overs. Pant gone for 4 off 22


Fans’ day out

Nagraj Gollapudi is your eyes and ears. Here he reports from before the start of play

A sport fan’s experience is unique. Between watching high-quality skill, there are also frustrating waits. However, watching the players in flesh, watching them train and play, watching them having fun during warm-ups – these are things that make it an enriching experience.

Dank, damp, soggy it might have been in Southampton the last three days, including Sunday, but the fans, majority of them Indians, have not been deterred. They have filled up to the 25% capacity allowed currently in England at sports stadia and made the noise and created a buzz without which this Ultimate Test might have sounds hollow. The fans are the biggest stakeholders in the end, and both the ICC and even the players recognise that.

Indian captain Virat Kohli might have a lot of things on his mind, but on Sunday, about three quarters of an hour from start of play, he heard a young Indian fan call him. The youngster, just about 10 years old, just wanted Kohli to acknowledge him to begin with [Editor’s note: Was it Roman reigns in disguise?]. Walking up the stairs leading to the dressing room, Kohli stopped mid-stride, gave a smile and thumbs-up. Next he asked the youngster, “Having a good time?”. The youngster was jubilant. His parent asked Kohli whether he could take a picture. Kohli said: yes, after the match.

That youngster might keep this story for life. It is just another example of the what being a fan means.

On the field, the ball is doing all sorts, and Rishabh Pant has just survived a marginal lbw call. It returned an umpire’s call on hitting the leg stump so the not-out call stayed. India 150 for 4 after 71 overs. Pant yet to open his account having faced 13 balls.


Kohli gets that rare jaffa

As Nasser Hussain has told you if you are watching the telly, Kyle Jamieson is easy to leave. According to HawkEye projections, only seven out of 94 balls from Jamieson will have gone on to hit the wicket. That seventh was the one that got Kohli out lbw. And thus ends another mini classic from Kohli. I know you are counting days since he scored a hundred, but I have rarely seen him bat better. He is so in control of what he is doing. He has been batting better than he did in 2018 where he left himself open to chance. The hundreds will come. Till then, enjoy the Kutty Classics.

India 149 for 4 in 67.4 overs. Virat Kohli gone for 44 off 132 balls.


Kohli v de Grandhomme

He is all set to end up as a handful of all-time great batsmen. His response to the quickest of quicks has been to cut down the distance between him and the bowler. “Treat them like a spinner,” Sachin Tendulkar told him.

He is a trundler. A typical New Zealand dibbly dobbly. Ironically he is called Sir Colin in cricketing circles because to an outsider it can seem he is being given the respect that should be reserved for Sir Garry but for no apparent reason.

Yet Virat Kohli has chosen to show great respect to Colin de Grandhomme. He got out to him in New Zealand last year. Then played and missed here. Played out three straight maidens.

The consensus here is this: Kohli has prepared so much against high pace that this nagging pace and equally nagging line and length in seaming conditions is a bit of a blind spot. And that is the beauty of international cricket: a blind spot – I hesitate to call it a weakness – can emerge from anywhere.

Kohli’s response has been the most fascinating. He has not tried to stamp his authority. He has looked Mitchell Johnson in the eye and hooked him all over MCG. Here he is forced to play out de Grandhomme. And he has. There is a good chance if he goes driving it will come off, and Kane Williamson will be forced to take de Grandhomme off. But there is also a good chance he might nick one. Or play uppishly to cover. He has not taken that risk. He wants the scoreboard and the team score to stamp his authority.

This is a master batsman acknowledging an unlikely nemesis and doing whatever it takes to not give him his wicket. And de Grandhomme’s pace and line is the worst possible pace and line of you are looking to leave balls. Kohli has defended 15 and left alone eight of the 31 balls he has faced from de Grandhomme. Thirty-one balls, five runs, one dismissal is not a pretty reading for this match-up, but Kohli knows it is the final India scorecard reading that matters.

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