New Zealand had the slight edge over India at the close of play on Day 5 of the World Test Championship (WTC) in Southampton even as India dominated the proceedings on the day. India had moved to 64 for the loss of their openers and had a slender lead of 32 runs. It was a fascinating day’s play with runs hard to come by and as many as 10 wickets falling across the two teams. We take a look at the key takeaways from Day 5.
1. Shami Led India’s Fight Back With The Ball
Mohammed Shami led India’s charge on Day 5 and picked four big wickets in what was an inspired spell of bowling from the right-arm fast-medium seam bowler. He was brilliant with the old ball getting it to move off the seam and in the air bowling in and around the fourth stump at a distance of 6 metres from the batsmen. Adjustment in length was the key for Shami who made the ball talk by pitching it a touch fuller and troubled all the New Zealand batsmen. He also used the crease brilliantly going wider and creating the angle getting the ball to nip back in sharply.
Ishant Sharma also benefited from bowling a touch fuller and got the maximum swing amongst all the Indian bowlers. He got two big wickets today – of Henry Nicholls and Kane Williamson probing at both the batsmen in the corridor and inducing an edge to the slips. Jasprit Bumrah, although mostly back of a length, was more disciplined and built pressure from his end not giving too many away even when he was not taking wickets.
India picked 8 wickets conceding 148 runs on Day 5 and the faster bowlers had brought them right back into the contest.
2. Kane Williamson – 177-Balls Masterclass
Kane Williamson displayed why he is amongst the greatest Test batsmen in the world currently with a classic exhibition of old-fashioned attritional and defensive batsmanship.
He showed loads of patience and respected the conditions and the Indian attack in the first session of play. Although runs were hard to come by, the New Zealand skipper understood the significance of his presence in the middle. He left with confidence and defended with soft hands almost blocking everything thrown at him. He did not get tempted and left anything which was full or at good length and outside the off stump.
In what was an exemplary display of grit, determination, technical skills and temperament, Williamson kept the New Zealand innings together even as they lost three wickets in the morning session remaining unbeaten on a defiant 19 off 112 deliveries. He had hardly played a false shot.
Williamson read the match situation brilliantly and started to play a few shots only after the wicket of De Grandhomme and when India had taken the new ball. Realising that he was running out of partners, he got a few boundaries away and scored 30 off 65 deliveries before being dismissed. It was a defensive masterclass from the New Zealand captain and if not for his (almost) five-hour vigil at the crease, New Zealand might well have been bundled for less than 150 and India could have been pressing for a win on Day 5.
3. Tim Southee’s All-Round Show Gives New Zealand Edge
Tim Southee came out to bat at 192 for 7 and put together a crucial 29-run stand for the 8th wicket with skipper Kane Williamson. It was a significant partnership as it took New Zealand past the Indian total which ultimately gave them a 32-run lead in the first innings. Southee hit a few meaty blows and scored 30 off 46 deliveries – a very important knock in a low-scoring match at a very opportune time for New Zealand. Had Southee been dismissed cheaply, India could have dismissed New Zealand for a total of less than 200 which would have given them the psychological advantage. Southee’s cameo made sure it was the other way round!
Southee has been New Zealand’s highest impact bowler in the WTC and he showed just why with the new Dukes cherry in his hand. He bowled a number of outswingers to Shubman Gill before setting him up with the one that moved back from a full-ish length trapping the stylish right-hander leg before wicket. Then, just before the close of play, he got the big wicket of Rohit Sharma, again surprising the batsmen with the one that came in after delivering four outswingers in a row. Rohit did not offer a shot and was rapped on his back pad.