Saturday witnessed an exciting 28-over first session between India and New Zealand in the World Test Championship (WTC) Final. Cricket fans were hoping for more of the same over the subsequent two phases of game-play. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the overcast weather played spoilsport and resulted in a start-stop affair since the second session at Southampton.
As expected, the conditions have favored New Zealand bowlers, as the ball is moving both ways in the 65th over. So far, the Indian batsmen have looked to respect the conditions and applied themselves rather than resorting to aggressive shots to break the shackles.
Due to inclement weather conditions, the play was abandoned after 64.4 overs. At stumps on Day 2, India had 146-3 on the board, with Virat Kohli (44) and Ajinkya Rahane (29) at the crease. The experienced duo have put together 58 runs in 147 balls so far.
The team management will hope the Indian skipper and vice-captain build their partnership further and provide a solid platform for attacking players like Pant and Jadeja. In Test cricket, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have put together 3435 runs in 58 innings at an astonishing average of 62.45, including 10-century partnerships.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane combined to put a mammoth 365 runs partnership against New Zealand in 2016 at Indore
Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore was the venue for the last Test of the 3-match series during New Zealand's India tour in 2016. It was also the first Test match to be held at the venue.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first. A batting paradise was on offer at the venue for this contest. The top-order failed to capitalize on the favorable conditions, which meant India was in a spot of bother at 100-3, with Vijay (10), Gambhir (29), and Pujara (41) back in the hut.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane joined hands at this juncture and sculpted a towering partnership of 365 runs for the fourth wicket to take India to a massive first innings total. The duo's 365-run partnership is India's highest fourth-wicket partnership against New Zealand in Test cricket.
Virat Kohli (211) scored his second double century in Tests and his first against New Zealand. The Indian skipper's 366-ball knock comprised 20 hits to the fence. His partner in crime, Rahane (188), notched up his career-best score en route to a record-breaking stand. The elegant stroke-maker hit 18 fours and four sixes during his exceptional knock.
Rohit Sharma (51 in 63 balls) and Jadeja (17 in 27 balls) added some quick runs in the end. It helped India declare their innings at 557/5. In reply, the Kiwis posted a decent total of 299 before getting all-out. Martin Guptil (72), Latham (53), and Neesham (71) were the major contributors to New Zealand's first innings. Ashwin ended with figures of 6/81.
It meant India earned a hefty 258-run lead to gain the upper hand in the encounter at the halfway stage. Virat Kohli declared the innings at this stage and set a target of 475 runs for the Kiwis.
In their second innings, India batted with some urgency and scored 216-3 in 49 overs. Virat Kohli declared the innings at that stage and set a target of 475 runs for the Kiwis. Pujara (101 in 148 balls) and Gambhir (50 in 56 balls) were the star performers.
It was an uphill battle for the Kiwis to chase more than 400 in the fourth innings on an Indian pitch. Ashwin (7/59) and Jadeja (2/45) finished the formalities as the Kiwis were skittled out for 153 runs. India eventually won the match by a huge margin of 321 runs. Ravichandran Ashwin won the player of the match award for picking up 13 wickets in the Test.
Indian cricket fans will hope Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli continue to bat for a longer period in the first innings as it will give the team the upper hand in the WTC final.