UNITED KINGDOM. Southampton. The Rose Bowl: A gritty batting display by Virat Kohli (44 no)and his vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (29 no) saved the Indian innings in what seemed a dark and gloomy day at Southampton for the final at the World Test Championship (WTC) on Saturday. India finished day 146 for the loss of 3 wickets. Kohli and Rahane were at the crease with an unfinished 58 run fourth-wicket partnership. The first day was completely lost due to rain.
The New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and asked India to bat first. He has won 19 tosses in Test cricket and chosen to field in 14 of them. Many of them are because New Zealand is a bowl-first country and the pitches there just keep getting better and better.
This decision, though, is due to the conditions created by the rain and the weather forecast. There is early moisture to be exploited, and the cool weather means the pitch won’t deteriorate as much as it usually does in Tests, which makes batting first the right choice most of the time. India is wearing black armbands in tribute to the great runner Milkha Singh, who died of post-Covid complications.
Solid opening stand
The Indian opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shubhman Gill started the innings very confidently. With the Duke ball was swinging and seaming from the very first ball, the batsmen were playing according to the merit of the balls. With any slightest opportunity given, both batsmen capitalized it with great elan. Rohit’s two back-foot cover drives were a treat to watch. Gill’s straight drives were worth watching, batsmen pushing with the straight bat with great acumen. Both batsmen also leaving the balls outside the off-stump, showing a mixture of caution and aggression.
When all looked settled, Jamieson, the tall right-handed seamer, produced a ball that swung and bounced. It kissed the bat of Rohit and Tim Southee hold the diving catch at third slip. Rohit scored a solid 34 with six hits to the fence. The opening stand was 62 runs. Gill followed his opening partner when he nicked Wagner, who was bowling his first over, for 28. At lunch, India was 69 for 2.
Kohli – Rahane partnership
Post lunch saw Indian captain Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara struggling to get runs. Pujara took 36 balls to score his first run when he cut Wagner to a boundary. But, Boult trapped Pujara lbw with a ball that pitch in line with off stump and curled in for 8. That brought Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane to the crease. Virat along with him soon began to consolidate the innings. They both showed stoic determination and grit. Leaving balls outside the off-stump, they got their eyes in. Running between the wicket improved dramatically with both batsmen showed the intention of converting two’s into three’s.
It was gloomy throughout the day at Southampton and it required the highest concentration level for both the batsmen to negotiate swing and bounce. The bad light stopped the play a couple of times. Virat played his innings very uncharacteristically. Known for his free-flowing strokes, Virat curbed his instinct and showed a lot of restrain. One can gauge his curbing by the fact that he hit only one boundary during his 124 balls not out innings. His partner, Rahane, hit four hits to the fence. When bad light stopped the play, Indian innings were cruising 146 for 3. Boult, Jamieson, and Wagner took one wicket each. Tomorrow will be an interesting day as far as this match is concerned.
Brief Score: India First Innings- 146 for 3. ( Rohit Sharma 34, Virat Kohli 44*, Ajinkya Rahane 29* Jamieson 1/14)