STATE TIMES NEWS
SOUTHAMPTON: Virat Kohli’s watchful effort in challenging conditions helped India reach 120 for three at tea on day two of the World Test Championship final here on Saturday.India, who had reached 69 for two at lunch, was only able to add 51 runs in the afternoon with the loss of Cheteshwar Pujara (8 off 54). Kohli (35 not out off 94) had the company of his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (13 off 54) when early tea was taken due to bad light.Compared to the morning session, New Zealand’s all pace attack showed much more discipline to not allow the batsmen any easy runs.With the Dukes ball moving around, Kohli paid due respect to the bowlers including Colin de Grandhomme, who bowled three successive maidens to the India skipper.He was happy leaving anything outside the off stump and was quick to pick up runs when bowled into the pads. Such was Kohli’s intent that he did not hit a single boundary in the session.Pujara at the other end took 36 balls to open his account, a cut shot off Wagner that went for a boundary. Like Shubman Gill earlier in the day, Pujara too was hit on the helmet but the blow from Wagner did not seem to bother him much.Soon after, the gritty batsman was trapped in front by another left-armer, Boult, who swung it back enough sharply to beat the batsman.Earlier, Rohit Sharma (34 off 68) and Shubman Gill (28 off 64) staved off the initial swing threat posed by the opposition pace attack with disciplined batting before New Zealand fought back to leave India at 69 for two at lunchAfter day one was rained out, cool and overcast conditions at the Hampshire Bowl on day two made it a no-brainer to bowl first and Kane Williamson did just that.India decided to stick to the playing eleven they announced two days ago despite change in conditions while New Zealand went in with a four-prong pace attack at the expense of a specialist spinner with all-rounder de Grandhomme being the fifth seam bowling option.Opening for the first time in England, Rohit and Gill came into the middle with a clear gameplan and applied themselves brilliantly against the potent pace duo of Boult and Tim Southee to share a 62-run stand.As he often does, Rohit batted with an open stance to negate left-arm pacer Boult’s trademark inswinger while Gill stood outside his crease to tackle Southee’s outswinger. There were times when Gill was not afraid to come down the track.Gill, who had played the short ball extremely well in his debut series in Australia, pulled Boult off the front foot for India’s first boundary of the final.Rohit got going with a couple of fours off Southee in the following over, one a cut through point and the other a thick edge past the slip cordon.Gill welcomed Kyle Jamieson into the attack with a lovely straight drive off an inswinger.The New Zealand bowlers were struggling to keep things tight as India reached 41 for no loss in 11 overs without a maiden over being bowled. No runs were scored for the next three overs with the openers doing a fine job to survive the first hour of play.The young Gill took a nasty hit on his helmet grill after Jamieson caught him by surprise with a sharp bouncer.The lanky pacer was the one who provided the much needed breakthrough by having Rohit caught at third slip with Southee taking a terrific catch.Wagner sent Gill back in his very first over with the one angling away and straight into the hands of wicketkeeper B J Watling, scripting New Zealand’s late fightback in the session.
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