India entered the World Test Championship Final against New Zealand as the favorites. However, the Blackcaps defeated them comfortably by eight wickets in the summit clash.
The Indian cricket team started the Test match well, but there were some moments where Virat Kohli's men could not perform their best. The Blackcaps emerged as the better team and were deservedly crowned champions in Southampton.
Despite having experienced stars like Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, the Indian team could not win its maiden ICC World Test Championship. In this article, we will look at three reasons why India lost to New Zealand in Southampton.
1. India's bowlers found it hard to dismiss the New Zealand lower order
Many fans feel India could have put New Zealand under pressure if they had set a target of around 175-200 runs for the Blackcaps in the fourth innings. However, that did not happen.
While some members of the cricket universe blamed India's batting performance in the second innings for their failure, it was perhaps the bowling in the first innings that let the team down. Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma reduced the Kiwis to 162/6 in the first innings.
At that stage, it looked like India may even take a slender lead. However, the last four wickets of New Zealand added 87 runs to the total. The Blackcaps took a 32-run first-innings lead, and that made a huge difference in the second half of the game.
2. Poor shot selection on Day 6
In some fans' opinion, India's decision to pick two spinners cost them this game, but both spinners performed well in the bowling unit. Perhaps, they were not used properly. Ravindra Jadeja bowled only 15.2 overs in two innings. He conceded 45 runs and took one wicket. Even Ashwin got to bowl only 25 overs across two innings, where he scalped four wickets.
It would be wrong to say that the spin bowlers did not perform well, but India could have had an advantage in the match by taking note of the English conditions and including one more pace-bowling option.
More than team selection, some poor shot selection from the Indian batsmen on the final day impacted the team's chances of winning. Rishabh Pant looked set for a big score, but then he took the aerial route against Trent Boult and handed a catch to Henry Nicholls. Even vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane lost his wicket to a delivery down the leg-side.
If the shot selection was a little better, the Indian team could have batted for a little longer and set a bigger target for New Zealand.
3. Jasprit Bumrah's off day at the office
Jasprit Bumrah is undoubtedly one of the best all-format bowlers in the world right now. However, the right-arm pacer could not get going in the World Test Championship Final.
He was the only Indian bowler to return wicketless in the WTC Final. Bumrah bowled 26 overs in the first innings, giving away 57 runs. In the second innings, he bowled 10.4 overs, conceding 35 runs.
While he got the edge of Ross Taylor's bat during the second innings, Cheteshwar Pujara, unfortunately, dropped the catch in the slips. But bowlers like Bumrah are expected to create chances like that frequently.
Bumrah also got an opportunity to bat twice in the game, and on both occasions, he got out before opening his account. He also dropped a catch of Kane Williamson in the second innings. Hence, one can say that Bumrah had an off day at the office during the WTC Final, where almost nothing went right for him.
Since he was one of India's lead pacers in this game, his disappointing performance played a vital role in the team's defeat.