After Day 4 was abandoned due to intense rain, Day 5 had to prove fruitful and it did. India went to stumps at 64/2 on the fifth day of the World Test Championship final on Tuesday and will enter the reserve day on Wednesday with a lead of 32 over New Zealand. Openers Shubman Gill – 8 off 33 balls – and Rohit Sharma – 30 off 81 balls – were both dismissed by pace bowler Tim Southee. Skipper Virat Kohli (8 off 12 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (12 off 55 balls) were unbeaten at the draw of stumps. Earlier, New Zealand could eke out only a 32-run lead in the first innings as India, powered by pacer Mohammed Shami’s four-wicket haul (4/76), dismissed the Kiwis for 249 on the fifth day of the rain-hit World Test Championship final here on Tuesday.
FIRST SESSION - (IND- 217/10) (NZ-135/5)
It started with rain. Went onto a wet outfield. Then to the Indian seamers bowling it slightly short and the Kiwi batsmen going into a shell. As expected, the first half of the session was very slow moving as both Skipper Williamson and Veteran Ross Taylor tried to get the feel of the pitch. Both the batsmen held onto the innings, playing and missing several times. And finally to Shami doing a Shami, and getting the breakthrough. It was not the reverse swing. It was just plain seam bowling. Taylor chipped a punch to cover and a stunning catch from the youngster Shubman Gill, a full-length dive at short cover. And then Ishant returned from round the wicket, and on a rare ball on which he made Nicholls play a ball he should have left and got a nick. Nicholls flirted at a ball he could've, should've left. And Watling was just outpaced, out-thought, outplayed with a ripper from Shami. Meanwhile, through all of this, Williamson hung around and held onto his end of the wicket. The scoring rate was pretty slow and India were totally at the top at lunch picking up 3 important wickets.
SECOND SESSION - (IND- 217/10) (NZ- 249/10)
New Zealand were bowled out with 249 runs on board, a 32-run lead and a clear upper hand thanks to the cameo from Jamieson and Southee at the end. Both scored 51 runs together as India's eternal problem - inability to clean-up tailenders remainer. Earlier in the session, India were at a really good spot but defensive fields and rock solid Williamson ensured India weren't gaining any lead. Williamson finally departed, scoring 49 runs as he edged short of length delivery outside off stump from Ishant Sharma. Ashwin and Jadeja cleaned up the tail. Shami was the pick of the bowlers for India for his four wickets.
THIRD SESSION - (IND- 64/2 & 217/10) (NZ- 249/10)
Indian Batsmen had a watchful start to their second innings while Southee and Trent Boult were steaming in. Both Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill had several play-and-misses. The scoring rate was as slow as expected. Skipper Kane Williamson made the first bowling change searching for that wicket as he brought in Jamieson to replace Boult. But it was Southee who drew first blood as Shubman Gill missed a full, straight, in-swinger that hit him in the pads. Both Pujara and Rohit dug-in as India looked to end the day's play with no further loss of wicket. But, Rohit could no longer hold and was out LBW 3 over before stumps and it was Southee again. It was a close call but Rohit didn't go for the review. Kohli and Pujara saw off the rest of the overs as India went to stumps with 64/2 on board.
Captain Kohli was at the crease with Cheteshwar Pujara at Stumps. India would look to at least take a 200-run lead to get any sniff of a result in their favour. Meanwhile, New Zealand would be really happy with the way they ended the day and are in a pole position to get a result.