All the stats, analysis and colour from the title bout of the inaugural World Test Championship
Tight and tense
One hour done, New Zealand have scored just 16 runs. Batting has been tough. India have not given them anything to hit. Just the two boundaries. One off the rare half-volley, the other a glove down the leg side. Just the 12 overs bowled in that hour. New Zealand 117 for 2 in 61 overs, still trailing by 100.
Ross Taylor. LBW candidate. Check again, maybe?
This is from Shiva Jayaraman, who is on top of these thigs
Ross Taylor has gathered reputation over the years as a batter who can get out lbw to fast bowlers because he tends to get his front foot across, and because of that India bowlers have bowled straighter to him targeting his pads. However, that perceived weakness doesn’t come through in Taylor’s recent record in Tests. In the last three years, he has been dismissed lbw only five times in 36 innings. Among 33 top-order batsmen to have batted 30 or more times in the last three years, Taylor’s 13.9% (of innings that end with lbw dismissals) ranks only 21st. . Joe Root and Virat Kohli find themselves among the top five in this list, which is led by Roston Chase (11 lbw dismissals in 36 innings). Even in all international cricket in England in the last five years, Taylor has been dismissed lbw only twice in 17 innings.
New Zealand 112 for 2 in 58 overs.
India remain tight
Ishant Sharma began the morning with two misdirected balls down the leg side and got away with it. Those remain the only loose balls in the first half hour, during which New Zealand have scored only five runs. Kane Williamson’s first run of the morning came right at the turn of the half hour.
India’s chances of winning this are not bright barring a collapse this morning. The next-best thing for them is to dry up the runs so that New Zealand run out of time to force a result. India aren’t bowling this way or that. Neither too attacking not defensive. They are just bowling with the discipline they usually do. New Zealand will have to bat slightly adventurously if they are to force the issue, but they are still 111 behind so it is too early for that.
New Zealand 106 for 2 in 55 overs.
Starting in 20 minutes
The rain has stopped, the inspection has been done, and we are starting at 11.30am. WE have lost an hour but half of it can be made up at the end of the day. Provided the light remains good till 7pm, we should get 91 overs in.
How much more rain can we survive?
Right, this last band of frustrating rain has caught us on its way out. In fact it is not raining in some parts of Southampton. Remember we can add an extra half hour to the end of the day to make up for any overs lost today. So we only start losing overs after 11am. In theory, if we can somehow start at 11am, we can get seven hours of cricket. Six hours regulation, half an hour lost to rain and half an hour for slow over-rate. Post 11am, we start to lose overs, which looks likely right now.
But not sure if it will be on time
I might have tempted fate there. It is drizzling, and the hover cover is on. Not sure if it will delay the start, but just so you know.
There will be cricket
There has been some really annoying hot takes about this WTC final because it has been raining and we might end up with a draw. I am not going to be shrill and will only address only the reasonable criticisms and that too not directly. What the ICC has tried to do is preserve the essence of Test cricket as it has been for nearly 40 years now, which is five days’ worth of cricket, but it has added a reserve day to make up for weather. You can’t really expect them to play a timeless Test because it takes away time as a factor in the way the teams approach it.
Nor did the ICC know that Covid-19 would free up the schedules enough for people to now ask for a timeless Test. In normal circumstances, India would be finishing this tour and hurrying off to Sri Lanka for the limited-overs series. It owes it to member boards who owe it to broadcasters to make available the biggest stars. So this timeless Test thing is not sustainable nor true to Tests as we know it today.
A best-of-three series is a good idea, but, again, is it sustainable? You won’t always have teams free for a series whose broadcast money will go to ICC. And I am hoping against it, but WTC finals will not continue to be this full of interest.
What the ICC could have perhaps done was, and this is reasonable, is to keep adding a reserve day if we haven’t had five days’ worth of cricket and haven’t reached a result. So the basic idea is play until one of the two happens: an outright result or five days’ worth of cricket.
That said, we still have a maximum of 196 overs left in this Test. The forecast is good. And looking at how difficult the pitch is, it is silly to rule out a result. You don’t always need 40 wickets for a result. India went from 146 for 3 to 216 all out. So 101 for 2 is not quit dominant ahead for New Zealand. India have a way back in this. And if New Zealand are to force a result, we could even see it in 18 more wickets.
So with positive thoughts in mind, I welcome you to the Live Report of the fifth day of the WTC final. Half an hour to go to the start. If there is a delay, I promise you you will hear it first.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo