Former India batsman VVS Laxman feels the second session on Tuesday "may very well determine the course" of the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand.
India ended the opening session of the fifth day on a high after a quality display from pacers. Mohammed Shami dismissed two and Ishant Sharma picked one wicket to put the Kiwis in a spot of bother at 135/5 -- still trailing by 82 runs in the first essay. Laxman also praised Shami and said the pacer has been rewarded for his excellent bowling.
"Shami rewarded for his excellent bowling and a good session for India -- getting 3/34.The next session may very well determine the course of the game. #WTC21final," Laxman tweeted.
The big boost for the Kiwis is the presence of their skipper Kane Williamson in the middle. Williamson is batting on a 112-ball 19 and seems to be in no hurry to take on the Indian bowlers. Giving him company is Colin de Grandhomme (0 off 4).
With a constant drizzle delaying the start by an hour, the Indian bowlers had conditions tailor-made for them to start on fifth gear. But Ross Taylor and Williamson ensured they managed to miss the good balls and played out the ones which were in line of the stumps.
The first half an hour saw only 5 runs being scored and that showed the determination in both Taylor and Williamson's approach. While Jasprit Bumrah could have bowled slightly better in the conditions, Shami and Ishant kept trying to add to the tension as they maintained a disciplined approach. It was about who breaks first.
And Shami finally broke through as he got Taylor to drive on the up, only for Shubman Gill to come up with a smart diving catch at short mid-off. Taylor's 37-ball 11 was all about battling. With Shami drawing first blood of the day, Henry Nicholls joined the skipper in the middle.
But Ishant finally reaped the reward of putting in the hard yards as he got one to take the edge of Nicholls's bat and Rohit Sharma took a brilliant catch in the slip cordon. Shami wasn't done yet either as he bowled a jaffa to send back BJ Watling. The ball moved away enough after pitching the miss the edge of the bat and hit the stump as the wicket-keeper walked back having made just 1.
With play being washed off on the first and fourth day, the game is set to go into the reserve day and a first innings lead could mean all that much more as both teams would wish to go for the kill with the WTC title on the line.