New Zealand defeats India to become Test World Champion

By Kersi Meher-Homji

India’s lower order batsmen threw away their wickets in a hurry to lose an exciting Test. Where was the hurry? Captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri should have advised Rishabh Pant and Ravi Ashwin to slow down and not go gung ho and bat as if playing in a T20 match.

India could have batted for a draw to share the ICC World Test Championship rather than lose by 8 wickets. Remember the Sydney Test in early January when India fought for a draw due to courageous batting by injured batsmen Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari?

Face it, New Zealand deserved to win by their sensible and disciplined batting. Also their fast bowlers, especially Kyle Jamieson, were outstanding. Indian pace bowlers were also effective. But in the end India’s senseless batting on the final day cost them the championship. How slowly the Kiwi captain Kane Williamson batted (49 runs off 249 balls in the first innings and 52 not off 89 balls in the second)! He was a pillar of strength to his teammates.

It was an exciting 6-day Test played in Southampton, England despite rain delays; days 1 and 4 were completely washed out. On the last (6th) day, any of the four outcomes were possible; a win for NZ, a win for India, a draw or who knows ”“ a tie.

Sent in to bat India was going well at 3 for 149 with Kohli (49) and Ajinkya Rahane (44) in control. But the dismissal of Kohli started a collapse and India was shot out for 217, losing the last seven wickets for 68 runs. The outstanding bowler for the Kiwis was Jamieson who took 5 for 31 in 22 economical overs.

New Zealand replied with 249, a small lead of 32. In-form opener Devon Conway top scored with 54 and Williamson 49. Mohammad Shami (4 for 76) and Ishant Sharma (3 for 48) bowled quickly and accurately.

India could make only 170 (Rohit Sharma 30, Pant 41) in the second innings, falling to the relentless attack of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Jamieson.

Needing 139 runs to win, New Zealand reached the target losing two wickets and won comfortably by 8 wickets. Kyle Jamieson was the worthy Man of the Match for taking seven vital wickets in the Test.

And now New Zealand has become the first ICC World Test Champions. Our congratulations.

The losing captain Kohli said at the presentation, “First up, big congratulations to Kane and the whole team. They showed great consistency and heart to pull out a result in just over three days, sticking to their processes to put us under pressure. They deserved the win. The first day got washed out, and when play resumed it was difficult to get any momentum. We lost only three wickets but we could have got more runs if play had gone on without the interruptions.

“Today, the Kiwi bowlers executed their plans to perfection and pushed us back, and we were probably 30 or 40 runs short. We’ve been successful with this [bowling] combination in different conditions. We thought this was our best combination and we had batting depth as well, and if there was more game time, the spinners would have come into the game more as well.

“Jamieson is a quality cricketer. He hits really good areas with the ball and he’s a gutsy batsman as well. He’s had a great game and thoroughly deserved to be Man of the Match. It’s great for the game, the more the Test format is given importance, and the Test format is the heartbeat of the international format. We’re looking forward to the long summer ahead. We’ve got the squad and the quality to do something special.”

Kohli also suggested that in future we should have best of three Tests in future World Test Championship final.

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