Southampton – Skipper Virat Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane walked into a nicely laid trap by the relentless New Zealand pace attack, leaving India at 211 for seven at lunch on day three of the World Test Championship final here on Sunday.
India managed 65 runs in the session but lost four wickets. Anything in the vicinity of 250 would be a good score in prevailing conditions.
The overcast conditions made batting difficult and the likes of Kyle Jamieson (20-12-26-3), Trent Boult (20-4-46-1) and Neil Wagner (15-5-40-2) indulged in a ‘who blinks first’ game with the Indian batters and came out trumps with some incisive seam, swing and short pitched bowling.
Kohli (44, 132 balls) couldn’t add a single run to his overnight score as his RCB teammate Jamieson made life difficult for him.
Kohli,who had shown admirable patience in leaving every delivery outside the off-stump on day two, was ready to dig deep but the Black Caps resorted to the tactics that worked wonderfully against the India captain in their home conditions back in 2020.
Boult and Jamieson kept bowling outside the off-stump channel and Kohli kept on leaving before the 6 feet 8 inch seamer went slightly wide off the crease and got one to aim at rival skipper’s boot laces.
Kohli had shaped for an away going delivery and the balance of his head was tilted outside the off-stump, leaving him in tangle and the DRS review that he took was a waste of time.
Rishabh Pant (4) didn’t score a run for 19 balls and then got a boundary with a flick through mid-wicket. Two balls later, he took the bait when Jamieson angled one on the imaginary fifth off-stump. He went for an expansive drive only to be snapped in the third slip by Tom Latham.
Once the 61-run stand with Kohli had ended, Rahane (49, 119 balls) sensed that the scoreboard needed a move on and started playing a few shots.
But perhaps, the milestone was working on his mind and despite playing a mistimed pull-shot one ball earlier, Neil Wagner with his signature short ball prevented him from reaching a well-deserved fifty.
Rahane’s disappointment was evident as he fell into the trap to play the pull-shot despite knowing that Wagner had kept a deep fine leg and long leg for the shot.
His pull didn’t have the elevation as Wagner hurried him with the ball climbing on him sharply and Latham took a simple catch at mid-wicket.
Ravichandran Ashwin (22, 27 balls) threw his bat around and got some useful runs but was never going to last long as Tim Southee (22-6-64-1) took care of him just before lunch break.