India had taken the honours on Day 2 at Southampton losing just three wickets in almost 65 overs of play after being put in by Kane Williamson in overcast and cold conditions in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC). New Zealand bowlers had not been at their best and not made use of the conditions and were guilty of letting the Indians get away. They needed some inspiration early on Day 3 and that came in the form of Kyle Jamieson - the six foot eight inches tall bowler who has been India’s nemesis in the three matches he has played against them.
Jamieson had been the pick of the New Zealand bowlers on Saturday too. Tim Southee and Trent Boult had been a little wayward and did not find their lengths with the new Dukes Ball. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill had given India a terrific start adding 37 in the first 10 overs. Neither did the New Zealand opening pair get any wickets nor were they able to stem the flow of runs. It was Jamieson who brought some normalcy to the proceedings conceding just 10 runs off his first five overs. Most of his deliveries were either good length or just short and Jamieson may have been forced to bowl that length in order to contain the Indian openers. But it was when he changed his length and pitched it a touch fuller that he got the prized scalp of Rohit and gave New Zealand the first breakthrough.
This was the ‘mantra’ Jamieson adopted early in his spell on Day 3 and it immediately paid rich dividends for New Zealand. After being brilliantly restrictive on Day 2 when he returned with figures of 14 overs, 9 maidens, 14 runs and 1 wicket, Jamieson struck with his second over on Sunday. He set Kohli up nicely by bowling in the corridor before pushing one a touch fuller, getting it to nip back trapping the Indian captain leg before wicket. It was a huge moment in the Test match as Kohli was batting beautifully and looked determined for a big one. His partnership with Ajinkya Rahane had the potential to take the match away from New Zealand but Jamieson had other plans.
Jamieson had his tail up. He was suffocating the Indian batsmen not giving anything away. He troubled Rishabh Pant from round the wicket but the extra movement he was getting was reducing his chances of getting an lbw from that angle. To change things up a bit he went over the wicket and almost had the swashbuckling Indian keeper plumb in front of the stumps only to miss out on an Umpire’s Call. However, the clever Jamieson had the last laugh as he got his man a couple of overs later by again pitching the ball full but this time taking it away from the left-hander with the angle tempting Pant to play an extravagant shot and inducing the edge.
It was another massive moment in the match for Pant had been in destructive form in Test cricket in the last few months for India and had the potential to change the course of this match in a matter of overs. Jamieson’s splendid opening spell today of 6 overs, 3 maidens, 12 runs and 2 wickets had changed the match on its head and it was advantage New Zealand.
Jamieson returned to bag two more wickets of Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah and finished with his fifth fifer in only his 8th Test! It was a change in length that had worked wonders for the New Zealand pacer today - from his average delivery pitching at a good length or just short on Day 2, he got it a lot fuller on Day 3 allowing the ball to swing and seam admirably and reaped the benefits.
From that height it is natural for Jamieson to want to bowl short of a good length and thus credit to him for working on his skills and pitching the ball a few inches fuller.
Jamieson has had a great start to his Test career and now has a tally of 44 wickets in just 8 Tests (15 innings) at a stunning average of 14.13 and strike rate of 35.9. He has troubled the Indian batsmen in all the three matches he has played against them - Jamieson had returned with 4-39 in the first innings in Wellington which included the wickets of Kohli, Pujara and Vihari. He then produced a Player of the Match performance at Christchurch bagging five in the first innings including four wickets of the top-middle order.
It is an adjective not often used in the context but Jamieson had indeed produced a ‘tall’ performance in Southampton on Day 3 and given New Zealand the edge in the final.