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Thursday, July 1, 2021

WTC .. the better team won ~ analysing Indian loss !

WTC – Team India : Formidable line-up – wonder boy Rohit Sharma, emerging star  Shubman Gill, wall- Cheteswar Pujara, World best Virat Kohli, consistent ever-reliable Ajinkya Rahane, bubbly Rishab Pant, all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, pace quartet – Mohammad Shami, experienced Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah .. ..

A team of nice blokes who played better Cricket won – they planned judiciously, landed early, played 2 tests, got acclamatised and .. .. .. won !  - well played Kane Williamson and Team New Zealand .. .. Indian fans too are happy.

With an aerial flick over square leg, Ross Taylor took  New Zealand to their first world title in cricket 46 years after world championships started in cricket. They have worked hard for this title, and have raced against the dying sun and a high-quality team to get there. Ross Taylor turned 37 this year but the retirement talk hasn't emerged simply because of his age. Prior to the match in Southampton, the 108-test veteran revealed that he might have drawn stumps on his career in 2019 had the Black Caps won the World Cup final.  

On day 6 with  98 overs to be bowled, a draw was the most  dominant favourite with bookmakers but Jamieson flipped it the Black Caps’ way by removing key batsmen Kohli and Pujara in the space of five deliveries. He trapped Kohli early and had Pujara edging to old guy Taylor at slip.  There was drama for Watling, too, who suffered a dislocated right ring finger and required physiotherapist Tommy Simsek to put it back in place before he continued on in pain, a 75th and final test the reliable gloveman will never forget.

Rishabh Pant, who helped book India’s spot with a matchwinning knock against Australia at Brisbane, counter-attacked from what looked a hopeless position. On five he got a major let-off from the usually reliable Tim Southee who dropped him at second slip off Jamieson, and he went on the charge. His 41 off 88 balls was India’s top score, before his luck finally ran out and Nicholls held a brilliant running catch from gully to one that went into orbit. The old firm Southee (4-48) and Boult (3-39) combined for seven wickets and victory was there for New Zealand’s taking. 

                 Spin whiz Ravichandran Ashwin threatened to spoil the party, removing a charging Tom Latham (9) and Devon Conway (19) to cause some early jitters, after India set a skinny target when bowled out for 170. But they had senior, sound heads.  Kane Williamson successfully challenged an Ashwin lbw decision on one and Taylor survived a Cheteshwar Pujara drop on 26  yet Kane Williamson’s Black Caps are world champions, at last. They completed an eight-wicket win over Virat Kohli’s India at Southampton on Wednesday, slaying cricket’s giants in the inaugural test decider that wrapped up at 5.35am on a New Zealand winter morning. Chasing just 139 to win off 53 overs, they were guided home by Williamson (52 not out) and Ross Taylor (47 not out) the men for the moment, who steadied the ship in a 96-run stand to spark wild celebrations on their balcony. The skipper led brilliantly and set it up with a five-hour marathon knock of 49 in the first innings, on a pitch all batsmen found hard work.

The towering figure of swing bowler Kyle Jamieson was the dominant individual at Southampton, snaring match figures of 7-61 including the prized wicket of Kohli in both innings. Sixteen months after making his debut against India at Wellington, Jamieson has 46 wickets from eight tests at the scarcely believable average of 14.17. 

It doesn’t get any bigger for these Black Caps, a deserved victory for a side who played like they deserved their mantle and dominated India for much of an intense contest amid rain showers. Sir Richard Hadlee, has praised the title-winning Black Caps, describing them as the best New Zealand cricket side in history. Sitting No.1 in the world test and ODI rankings, and third for T20s, the Black Caps’ golden generation are experiencing an unprecedented wave of success.

It’s hard to compare this feat against the incredible effort of so many New Zealand athletes who have claimed gold at various Olympic Games and world championships in truly global sports. But to the island Nation, Cricket and Rugby are a worthy comparison, given their world standing in terms of competitive top-level nations.  The difference between the Black Caps and the All Blacks is that New Zealand has set the pace in rugby pretty much ever since the first black jersey bearing a silver fern was pulled on.  Cricket’s climb to the top of their Everest has been a long haul. Only granted test status in 1930, New Zealand had to wait 26 years for their first test victory and success was spasmodic thereafter.

Virat Kohli, India's captain, admitted that New Zealand are the deserving winners of the inaugural World Test Championship, but has called for future editions of the tournament - which is contested over a two-year cycle - to be decided in series comprising a minimum of three Tests between the two finalists.  Kohli was expanding on the point he had made on the eve of the final, when he had said victory or defeat in the one-off final would not carry too much significance for his team. The best-of-three final was suggested by Indian head coach Ravi Shastri in a recent interview, and Kohli today added more flesh to that argument.

An one-0ff test and a loss is not hurting .. .. but the manner we played ! – that we contrived to lose a Test (though played over 6 days) hampered by rain, a day getting washed out and badlight stoppages .. .. first Innings we played 92 overs making paltry 217 and in the second 73 overs making 170.  With 98 overs to be bowled – India at 64/2 – getting all out for 170 and losing was spineless.  It is time we stopped adulating them with titles – those who have not performed over a period needs to be dropped and others given a chance ! 

A combination of 2 Openers, 3 middle order, Wicket-keeper batsman, 2 bowling allrounders and 3 pacers – we expect the batsmen to score heavily and consistently – and not leave it to late middle order and tail enders to score.  Here is how our top 5 has performed in recent times [Tests in Australia; home Series against England and this test against Kiwi]

1.   Rohit Sharma – Aus: 26,52,44,7; Eng 6,12,161,26,66,25*, 49; NZ 34,30

2.   Shubman Gill – Aus : 45,35*,50,31,7,91; Eng 29,50,0,14,11,15,0, NZ 28 &8

3.   Cheteswar Pujara: Aus 50,77,25,56; Eng 73,15,21,7,0,dnb,17; NZ -8, 15

4.   Virat Kohli : Aus 74 &4; Eng 11,72,0,62,27,0 NZ 44 &13

5.   A Rahane : Aus 22,4,37,24; Eng 1,0,67,10,7,dnb,27; NZ 49,15

Certainly not very consistent and not big scores they have made  !  .. .. 

Otherwise, well played Team India for coming to the finals of World Test Championship and well played New Zealand, the better team and a well-behaved team - winning it.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                                    24th June 2021.

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