Southampton [UK], June 23 (ANI): A lead of 98 runs for India, the need to pick five wickets for New Zealand to get a target to chase and a minimum of 73 overs still to be played has put the World Test Championship final in the balance as two more sessions remain to be played on the Reserve Day at the Ageas Bowl.
New Zealand couldn’t have asked for a better start to the morning session as they dismissed skipper Virat Kohli (13), deputy Ajinkya Rahane (15), and Cheteshwar Pujara (15) in the opening session. But going into the lunch break, India's score read 130/5 with Rishabh Pant (28) and Ravindra Jadeja (12) looking in control.
Tim Southee dropping Pant with the batsman on 5 could well come back to haunt the Kiwis as he has grown from strength to strength and looked to not tinker with anything outside the off-stump. While patience isn’t his biggest virtue, Pant has looked to play the balls mostly on merit.
Jadeja on his part has looked to show application and even decided to refrain from playing the pull shot even though he has been peppered with the short ball by Neil Wagner. In fact, Jadeja loves playing the pull shot, but with an eye on the condition, he has looked to use the depth of the crease and play the backfoot defence.
Earlier, resuming on the Reserve Day at 64/2, overnight batters Kohli and Pujara added just seven runs to the score before Kohli was dismissed as he chased a delivery bowled outside off by Jamieson. Wicket-keeper BJ Watling did the rest as a dejected Kohli walked back.
In his very next over, Jamieson once again pitched one outside the corridor of uncertainty and this time it was Pujara who poked at the Dukes ball even though it seemed he was in two minds on whether to let it go or play at it. In the end, it was a comfortable catch for Ross Taylor in the slip cordon.
Rahane and Pant looked to stitch a partnership after Southee dropped the latter, but even as India’s Test deputy looked like he was settling down, he managed to flick one down the leg-side off Boult to see India get reduced to 109/5. The 37-run partnership was starting to flourish when the Kiwis got a much-needed break. After that, it was some good batting from Pant and Jadeja that saw the team through to the break.