Shami, Southee set up lively final day

Shami, Southee set up lively final day

Following the unfortunate washout on Day 4, cricket finally resumed on Day 5 in the ICC World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand in Southampton. After bowling New Zealand out for 249, India ended the day at 64/2 with a lead of 32 runs heading into the final day of the series.

Virat Kohli’s side were frustrated in the opening hour, with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor playing with extreme caution. The Indian bowlers were unable to find the edge despite regularly beating the bat with Mohammed Shami, in particular, impressing with his picture-perfect seam presentation. 

After all their hard work throughout the session, the Indians were finally rewarded after the drinks break with the wickets of Taylor, Nicholls and BJ Watling after pitching the ball up fuller. Taylor was caught at short extra cover off Shami while Nicholls flirted with a delivery outside off stump, edging it to Rohit Sharma at second slip. BJ Watling was the last one dismissed before lunch after a brilliant Shami delivery that kissed the bails and left the Kiwis in a spot of bother at 135-5.

The Black Caps scored only 35 runs at 1.5 runs per over in the morning session but changed their approach after lunch, going into attack mode. With Kane Williamson playing as the anchor, the other New Zealand batsmen were given the freedom to score quickly and Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee played some handy cameos to help New Zealand score more than 100 runs after lunch. The Kiwis were eventually dismissed for 249 after scoring 87 runs for their final 4 wickets, with the lower-order contributions helping them build a crucial 32 run first-innings lead.

India ended the day at 64-2, creating a 32-run lead of their own heading into the final day. The Indian openers played cautiously in the opening hour but were both undone by an inswinging delivery from Tim Southee. Shubman Gill was guilty of playing across the line and was trapped on his back pad for 8 while Rohit Sharma misjudged a leave and was caught on his crease while offering no shot 15 minutes from stumps.

While a draw is still the most likely result in this rain-affected final, there is still hope for a result on the reserve day with 98 overs left in the game. New Zealand have a clearer route to victory with the hope of skittling India quickly on the 6th morning before chasing the target. India, on the other hand, have the trickier task of building a substantial lead before hoping to bowl New Zealand out towards the end of the day after a bold declaration.