A look at how the events of the WTC Final transpired a long-sought ICC win for New Zealand after continuous snubs in World Cup finals, special on-field moments and key performances of this historical Final.
The Knights, Now Crowned🏆
At last, the Kiwis had the chance to have the last laugh at the final of an ICC event. The sun eventually rose for the Black Caps to win their first ICC tournament in long 21 years. And what's better than The World Test Championship, inaugural marquee event of ICC aimed at restoring the longest format of the game.
A full-strength Indian team was beaten quite comprehensively in a closely fought match at the brink of Stumps on a rare Day 6. And who better to ace the chase in the end than the two modern-day Kiwi legends, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, leading run-scorers for the Black Caps in Test Cricket.
The Rainy Conundrum
The players and fans were baffled. The rain had played spoilsport and didn't allow continuous play on the first 4 days of this test match, eventually washing away 2 days. ICC was slammed for scheduling such an important final at Southampton during the English rainy season.
To the respite of the two teams, the showers didn't bother again once the game resumed on Day 5. Scaling the Indian 1st inning total of 217, a solid batting display by the top order with middle and lower batsmen chipping away with valuable contributions saw New Zealand have 32-run crucial lead on India. Unlike 1st innings, the Indian openers couldn't build a similar foundation and lost 1 wicket before equalizing the lead. The hitman too fell for 30 and India were 64/2 at Stumps on Day 5, with captain Kohli and Pujara steady at the crease and Southee with 2 scalps to his name.
The Reserve Day
Well...this way or that, the Reserve Days haven't proved to be much beneficial for the Indian team. Be it the World Cup semi-final against same opposition or the WTC final, the going's been tough. Wickets fell early with Jamieson again working his magic on Kohli and dismissing Pujara too in the process. Rahane and Pant (top-scoring with 41) showed some respite and played with controlled aggression but were eventually cleared by Boult.
The lower order tried to to replicate the performace of the Kiwis but couldn't do much in response to fiery spells by Wagner and Southee. India were bundled out for 170, setting a target of 139 for Kiwis with less than 2 sessions left in play. Ashwin jolted the Kiwi openers but the rest couldn't do much about the experienced duo of Taylor and Williamson who saw a famous New Zealand victory.
The new chokers? (Highly Unlikely)
This game has brought immense joy to New Zealand but some questions for the Indian team. Being their 6th continuous loss in an ICC knockout (3 finals & 3 semi-finals), some are doubting this team's efficiency to perform in high-stake matches. The captain's ability have come under the radar. But one must not forget this is the team ruling the Test format for close to 5 years with exemplary performances both in sub-continent and foreign conditions.
To beat the Aussies continuously in their own den is no mean feat. This match played in conditions slightly similar to that of Kiwis and with no match practice. So, the efficiency of this team and captain cannot be questioned, especially in this format. But one can't appreciate the efforts and execution of the Black Caps enough to finally lay hands of a much-deserved trophy and this win should be acknowledged and enjoyed by every lover of this game.
So, these were my views regarding the inaugural WTC Final and hope you had a good time reading this. Being an Indian, I feel proud of the performances showcased by our team throughout the World Test Championship and sticking together through thick and thin.
Feel free to express your views regarding the blog. Your feedback/insights on this topic would be much appreciated. Will be back soon with new content.
Stay awesome and keep hitting!!