Two years after their grief in the World Cup final at Lord’s, New Zealand returned to English soil and emerged triumphant, an eight-wicket victory over India seeing Kane Williamson’s men crowned first World Test Champions at the end of a dramatic sixth day that stirred the senses.
Gone are the miserable rain that pushed this centerpiece into a reserve day, the sun smiling at Williamson as he lifted the ICC test mass in Southampton and his Black Caps team saw their commitment to cricket egoless and a collective goal deliver the silverware she so deserves.
This time around there were no deviations of luck or obscure fine print to deny them glory, a 139-in 53-overs target in the fourth inning was knocked out with seven to lose thanks to a chic unbeaten 52 from Williamson, ice flowing completely through his veins, and Ross Taylor generally grafted 47 no from No.4.
Nerves trembled again in the final installment of this low-scoring affair, never more than when pollster Ravichandran Ashwin stung the largely pro-Indian crowd into a frenzy with the withdrawals of forerunner Tom Latham, perplexed for nine, and Devon Conway, lbw out of 19, with 95 passes still needed.
And a twist could have happened if Cheteshwar Pujara hadn’t missed a regulation catch early on, slipping Taylor over 18 with 55 to go, bowler Jasprit Bumrah denied. Instead, the 37-year-old shrugged, plus a nasty blow to the head from the same pitcher, as he and Williamson emulated compatriots Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay with an unwavering climb to the top.
Virat Kohli could only watch and cheer as Taylor threw the winning races on the side of the legs and a pocket of shirtless New Zealand supporters erupted; They are a champion team – the dominant force in the cricket test in recent years and half of a memorable final – and should not be defined by defeat.
In the end, India failed with the bat in the best hitting conditions of the match, New Zealand’s full attack, led by its breakout star in Kyle Jamieson, but without a link. weak between them, earlier dodging their opponents for 170 all after lunch. to set up the charge of victory.
Tim Southee had started the ball rolling the day before by knocking out the top two Indian players and finishing with numbers four for 48. Trent Boult also claimed two key strikes and eased his old friend’s nerves after dropping the dangerous Rishabh Pant out of only five at the slip; the wicket keeper clocked a best score of 41 thanks to a sensational Henry Nicholls catch over his shoulder.
But it was Jamieson who sent a seemingly intended draw and split title game rushing to its memorable conclusion after India recaptured 64 for two and led by 32. He knocked down Kohli and Pujara first. – the first for the second time as he pushed a behind for 13 – among award-winning game numbers of seven for 61 over 46 overs, 22 of which were young girls.
The emergence of the 6-foot-8 right-arm over the past 18 months has increased an already well-oiled New Zealand machine, one of whose pistons is Neil Wagner and his commitment to breaking lungs for the shortball.
Indeed, Wagner’s only intervention on the last day was typically notable, with India defending itself from Jamieson’s first brace and Boult’s withdrawal of Ajinkya Rahane with a strangled leg to reach lunch at five with a lead of 98.
Summoning a barrage of 14 successive bumpers after the break, the left-hander then pushed one up to Ravindra Jadeja, found the edge of No.7 of 16’s bat and exposed an Indian tail which for the second time s ‘is disintegrated. BJ Watling, a 35-year-old loyal wicket keeper now on his way to retirement, safely packed that key latch despite the throbbing pain of a dislocated finger.
The huge population gap between the two countries – five million versus 1.4 billion – may be overestimated, but with around a sixth of India’s professional talent pool and annual revenues comparable to that of a club county cricket clubs like Warwickshire, New Zealand. rise is still remarkable.
Like Watling, Southee, Wagner, Boult et al, Williamson and Taylor were the central pillars of it all. So it seemed fitting for this much admired pair to reunite for an unbroken stand of 96 and be there at the end of a long but rewarding finale, which ultimately delivered happier memories.