New Zealand’s Kyle Jamieson completed an impressive five-wicket haul before India’s bowlers showed some fighting spirit on the third day of the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton on Sunday.
An absorbing day of high-quality cricket, cut short by bad light despite the floodlights being on full beam, ended with New Zealand 101-2 in reply to India’s first innings 217 — a deficit of 116 runs.
New Zealand’s South Africa-born opener Devon Conway fell for 54 two balls before the close.
It was his third score of over fifty in just five Test innings following the 29-year-old left-hander’s stunning 200 on debut against England at Lord’s this month.
Jamieson is also in the early stages of his Test career yet the towering paceman still had a miserly return of 5-31 in 22 overs, including 12 maidens.
The 26-year-old’s fifth five-wicket haul in just eight career Tests included the prize scalps of India captain Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant.
“(Bowling full) is not my natural length as a tall guy,” Jamieson told Sky Sports. “I felt a bit tentative yesterday (Saturday) but today I felt a lot freer and was able to bring the length fuller and try to wobble the ball. It paid off.”
Yet India’s quicks also bowled well in helpful, overcast conditions that made batting difficult.
In a match marred by weather interruptions — Friday’s first day was washed out without a ball bowled — India resumed on 146-3.
Kohli was 44 not out and Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 29.
But Kohli, 10 years to the day since his Test debut against the West Indies in Kingston, had failed to add his score when the nearly 7ft (2.13 metres) tall Jamieson got a full-length delivery to nip back and strike the star batsman on the front pad.
Kohli reviewed Michael Gough’s lbw decision but the English umpire’s ‘out’ verdict was upheld to end a stand of 61.
Such was New Zealand’s accuracy, Kohli’s 132-ball innings included just one boundary.
The usually free-scoring Pant needed 20 balls to open his account with a four through midwicket off Jamieson.
Two balls later, however, Jamieson dismissed the wicketkeeper when Pant’s edged drive was well-held by Tom Latham at second slip.
Rahane had batted in composed fashion during an admirable 117-ball innings with five fours.
But, one run shy of a fifty, he was cramped trying to pull a Neil Wagner short ball and lobbed a simple catch to Latham, now at midwicket.
India’s 211-7 at lunch became 213-9 when Jamieson dismissed tailenders Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah with successive deliveries.
But No 11 Shami denied him a hat-trick with a cover-driven four worthy of a batsman.
Latham and Conway had some lucky moments but they also demonstrated a sound technique during a classic Test-match opening partnership of 70 that spanned more than 34 overs.
But the stand was broken by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who lured Latham, on 34, into a mistimed drive with a slower, flighted ball although it needed Kohli’s leaping catch at short extra-cover to seal the dismissal.
Conway pressed on to a 137-ball fifty, including six fours.
But the ‘flamingo’ one-legged whip shot, his lone extravagant stroke, proved his undoing when a mistimed effort off Ishant was caught by Shami at mid-on.
Ishant had stumps figures of 1-19 in 12 overs and Ashwin 1-20 in 12.
“It was a crucial wicket for us,” said India opener Shubman Gill of Conway’s exit, which saw Ross Taylor (nought not out) join New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (12 not out).
“I feel if we would have been able to bowl a couple of more overs to Ross Taylor, who was a new batsman for us, we might have gotten a couple more wickets.”
Match referee Chris Broad has a special dispensation to extend this final into a sixth day if he feels that will compensate for time lost in the game.
This match, the culmination of the inaugural World Test Championship that has spanned two years of series between the leading Test nations, is worth $1.6 million to the winners and $800,000 to the runners-up.
© Agence France-Presse