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India, NZ keep victory hopes alive in gripping WTC Final

by The Gulf Talk
NZ world champions

World Test Championship Final goes to sixth day with India and New Zealand still hopes of victory

India closed an absorbing fifth day on 64-2, with a lead of 32, and a positive result remains possible with the reserve day, which will feature a maximum of 98 overs, having been activated after a weather-hit affair.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson (49 off 177) played a brilliantly watchful knock while India seamer Mohammed Shami (4-76) ripped through his team-mates as New Zealand carved out a first-innings lead of 32 by scoring 249 in Southampton.

Williamson’s men now look the likeliest winners with Tim Southee dismissing India openers Shubman Gill (8) and Rohit Sharma (30) lbw with excellent in-swingers before stumps, having worked them over with out-swingers.

New Zealand will hope to skittle India and knock off a cheap target on what is set to be a sunny Wednesday, with Virat Kohli – who is unbeaten on eight – perhaps eyeing a declaration and a late-day dart at the Kiwis if his team can score quickly and get far enough in front.

The draw remains the heavy favourite – a result which would see the trophy shared – which the inclement weather on the South Coast having wrecked large portions of the inaugural final.

Days one and four were completely wiped out by rain, while the entertaining days two and three were trimmed by bad light.

There was frustration early on day five, too, with light drizzle delaying play by 60 minutes but when the action did get underway at 11.30am, with New Zealand on 101-2, and trailing India’s first-innings total of 217 by 116 runs, there was an engrossing two hours before the lunch break.

The first hour saw just 13 runs scored in 16 overs as the steady Williamson – who scored just 15 from the first 100 balls he faced in his knock – dug in and the out-of-sorts Ross Taylor (11) somehow survived a testing examination from India’s pacemen, with Shami particularly impressive.

Southee followed his fireworks with the bat by making the opening breakthrough in India’s second innings, pinning Gill (8) lbw with a full in-swinger after the opener played all around his front pad.

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