WTC Final: India vs New Zealand - Day 2: 3 Talking Points
On a start-stop day, India shared the honours with New Zealand.
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The second day’s play in the ICC World Test Championship final ended with most of the final session being called off due to bad light. New Zealand won the toss and sent India in to bat first, hoping to use the challenging conditions in Southampton to their advantage. However, Indian batsmen managed to keep the pressure on them for some period and ended the day with 146 for 3 after 64.4 overs of play.
Here are the three talking points from the day’s play:
1. Full pace attack by the Kiwis
There was a lot of discussion around the team combinations of both sides, given their depth. Indian captain Virat Kohli decided to stick to his strategy of two spinners and three seamers despite the rain and the overcast conditions. New Zealand, on the other hand, went in with four seamers, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson along with the medium pace of Colin de Grandhomme.
The wicket in Southampton does have some spin that can be exposed in the last couple of days, which favours India as they will be bowling in the fourth innings. For now, New Zealand’s attack has shown variety and there hasn’t been a need for a spinner, but it would be interesting to see how that turns out. Some may argue that with this attack, New Zealand has given themselves the best chance to win against India.
2. Opening stand between Rohit and Gill
The last time when India travelled to England on a Test tour in 2018, there was a lot of talk around how the openers batted. Their failure to get the team to a good start had a direct effect on the results. Rohit Sharma was playing his first Test as an opener against England, while Shubman Gill was playing his first international in the country.
Playing against the new Dukes ball against the quality attack of New Zealand was always going to be a challenge and on top of that, there were overcast conditions. However, both the openers batted positively and managed a 62-run partnership right at the top. Even though neither of the openers went ahead and made a big score, the start is quite valuable given these difficult and challenging conditions and might just be a match-winning effort.
3. The captain and his deputy save the day again
During the broadcast of the match, there was a stat which showed that the pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli has scored the most number of runs in partnership in Test cricket since 2016. Their partnership of 58 runs in Southampton came at the right time for India. It will surely play a key role going forward in the match and if they are able to stretch to a commanding position, the match will be well within India’s grasp. On day three, it will be crucial for these two to continue the way they are batting.