World Test Championship final: India & New Zealand still have hope going into last day

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India 217 & 64-2: Rohit 30, Southee 2-17
New Zealand 249: Conway 54, Williamson 49; Shami 4-76, Ishant 3-48
India lead by 32 runs
Scorecard

All four results remain possible in the final of the World Test Championship after an engrossing fifth day between India and New Zealand in Southampton.

India closed on 64-2, leading by 32, meaning the Test will go into a sixth and final day because of time lost to the weather earlier in the match.

Earlier, New Zealand ground out a first-innings lead of 32 by turning their overnight 101-2 into 249 all out.

Up against high-class fast bowling, captain Kane Williamson dug in for 49 from 177 balls, while Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee added important cameos of 21 and 30 respectively.

Southee then trapped Shubman Gill lbw for eight early in India’s second innings and dismissed his opening partner Rohit Sharma in the same manner 15 minutes before the close when he horribly misjudged a leave and fell lbw, offering no shot, for 30.

It leaves New Zealand as the most likely winners, if they can bowl India out on the reserve day and leave themselves enough time to chase a target.

India could still win – but it would likely take a rapid acceleration in their scoring rate or an aggressive declaration from captain Virat Kohli, who is unbeaten overnight on eight.

Good weather is forecast for day six, but if no win is possible in a maximum of 98 overs, the two teams will be crowned joint winners.

Two spectators were ejected from the Hampshire Bowl on Tuesday after organisers received reports of abuse directed towards the New Zealand players.

Tense day gives hope of finale

Whatever happens on Wednesday, it will be a landmark occasion – the first six-day Test since 2005 and first in England since 1975, as some overs from the two full days lost to weather earlier in the match are made up.

Day five was another tense day as both sides threatened force the match fully into their favour.

After a pedestrian start from New Zealand’s batters, India brought the contest to life by taking three wickets before lunch.

Ross Taylor hit Mohammed Shami to short extra cover for 11, Henry Nicholls was squared up and caught well at second slip by Rohit for seven off Ishant Sharma, before Shami (4-76) comprehensively bowled BJ Watling third ball.

Three wickets had fallen for 34 runs in the session and New Zealand were still 135-5, trailing by 82.

India sensed the chance of a lead but were thwarted by the resolute Williamson.

As he dropped anchor – the Kiwi captain scored only 15 from his first 100 balls, his lowest total after 100 deliveries in his career – Jamieson and then Southee played more enterprising knocks.

New Zealand wrested the upper hand and their advantage increased when Gill played horribly across the line to a Southee inswinger.

Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara then looked to have halted New Zealand’s momentum in a long evening session until opener Rohit’s brain fade.

That left New Zealand on top but, with Kohli at the crease and the attacking talents of Rishabh Pant to come, India are not quite out of it.

Kiwis refuse to back down as Shami & Southee impress


India and New Zealand are aiming to become the first Test world champions

Much has already been made of the differences between the two sides, New Zealand’s population and finances dwarfed by that of cricketing superpower India.

A lesser side would have crumbled in the morning session, which had been delayed for an hour by a morning shower, but the Black Caps batted admirably.

Skilful bowling on both sides has kept scoring rates low throughout the match.

Shami, who has not played a Test since December because of injury, was the pick of India’s seamers with a relentless line and length.

He also took the important wicket of the hard-hitting Jamieson, who top-edged a sharp bouncer to fine leg.

Southee was equally as impressive with the ball after tea, having earlier hit both Ishant and spinner Ravindra Jadeja over the leg side for six in his attacking knock.

The right-arm seamer set both Rohit and Gill up perfectly with outswingers, albeit he was helped by sizeable errors from the opening pair.

‘If we can get runs going, we have a chance’ – reaction

New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee: “It was a tough time this morning. Kane was able to hang tight and dig deep in what was a tough situation. He is a class player.

“When the ball was slightly older it tended to swing slightly more for the India bowlers. Hopefully we can do that and cause problems tomorrow morning. It is exciting to have all results still possible.”

India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin: “It has been a great day’s play. Our bowlers bowled well and I thought Kane Williamson batted well. “If we can get runs going tomorrow, then we have a chance. I can see a lot of things happening and that first hour is going to be important. Hopefully we can set something up later in the day.”

Ex-New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney on BBC Test Match Special: “New Zealand haven’t allowed India to get away. Two wickets is OK, three would have been great. Tomorrow’s first session will be a big session in the context of the outcome of the match.

“The question is, if India can get themselves to a run rate where they can win it. Can you bowl New Zealand out in a session? It will be difficult. I can’t see it quite working. I think that’s the reality. That being said, if there’s one side in the world who could open it up, it is India.”



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