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WTC final: Another washed out day diminishes result hopes

Last updated on: June 21, 2021 22:14 IST
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IMAGE: The fickle English weather played spoilsport in a game promising high quality contest as day four of the ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand was washed out due to rain. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Rain washed out an entire day's play for the second time in the ICC World Test Championship final in Southampton on Monday, diminishing hopes of a result in the India vs New Zealand contest.

Only 141.1 overs have been bowled in the match so far as the inclement Southampton weather continued to bedevil the inaugural edition of test cricket's pinnacle event.

 

New Zealand, who will resume on 101-2, would be particularly disappointed having taken the upper hand after their all-seam attack bowled out India for a below-par 217.

Captain Kane Williamson, batting on 12, and Ross Taylor, who is yet to score, would have expected to erase the 116-run deficit and push for a handy first-innings lead.

While the weather forecast is significantly better for the next two days, former England captain Kevin Pietersen is among those frustrated by the limited action so far.

"It pains me to say it, but a ONE OFF & incredibly important cricket game should NOT be played in the UK," tweeted the South Africa-born former test player.

Dubai, where the governing International Cricket Council (ICC) is headquartered, would have been an ideal venue for the final, he said.

"Neutral venue, fabulous stadium, guaranteed weather, excellent training facilities and a travel hub! Oh, and ICC home is next to the stadium," added the 40-year-old.

Rain had washed out the entire opening day on Friday and interrupted play over the weekend, though a reserve day is allocated to make up for lost time.

The one-off match marks the culmination of a two-year cycle of the WTC, which was launched in 2019 to give some context to bilateral Test series.

With no play taking place at the Hampshire Bowl, the match will now extend into the designated reserve day on Wednesday, if required, after rain also disrupted day one.

The forecast for the fifth and potential sixth days of the Test is significantly better and an announcement will be made on the reserve day on Tuesday.

Virat Kohli’s side lost seven wickets on the third day of the inaugural WTC showpiece, with the India captain the first man to fall to an inspired bowling performance from Kyle Jamieson.

The 26-year-old took a brilliant 5/31 for his fifth five-wicket haul in just eight Tests, with the dangerous Rishabh Pant also losing his wicket to the right-arm fast-medium bowler.

Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane did provide some stubborn resistance on his way to 49 but fell straight into Neil Wagner’s short-ball trap, hastening the Indian batting order collapse.

Jamieson helped wrap up the tail by taking the wickets of Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah in successive balls while Trent Boult and Tim Southee also chipped in with one apiece.

Those five wickets for Jamieson take his overall tally to 44 in eight Tests since making his five-day debut in February 2020, suggesting New Zealand have unearthed another bowling sensation.

In response to India, the Black Caps made steady progress at the start of their innings as Devon Conway and Tom Latham reached the tea session unscathed on 36 for no loss.

India kept posing questions after the restart, but New Zealand openers appeared to have all the answers and put on a partnership of 70 before Latham (30) fell to Ravichandran Ashwin.

Conway, who scored a double century on his Test debut at the beginning of this month, remained resolute however and added yet another half-century in his fledgling Test career.

But in what proved to be the final over on day three, Sharma removed Conway for 54 to leave the match intriguingly poised.

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