World Test Championship Final: New Zealand finally step into the land of champions!
New Zealand landed the inaugural World Test Championship title, beating India comprehensively by 8 wickets on Day 6 at the Hampshire Bowl. Ross Taylor (47) and Kane Williamson (52) remained unbeaten to take the team over the line while chasing 139 for the win.
It was consistency and persistence that brought the Kiwis their first ICC Trophy in the last 20 years! The last time they laid their hands on an ICC Trophy was back in 2000-2001 when they won the Champions Trophy.
In the last two 50-over World Cup campaigns, New Zealand had finished runners-up but that jinx finally ended with this title. This win also marked a perfect farewell for their retiring wicket-keeper BJ Watling, who continued playing despite a dislocated ring finger!
India, earlier, were bowled out for 170 runs after resuming on an overnight score of 64/2. All four Kiwi pacers - Trent Boult (4/48), Trent Boul (3/39), Kyle Jamieson (2-30) and Neil Wagner (1-44) played their part to dominate the Indian batters.
India looked to be on an attacking mode throughout, trying to sneak in quicker runs in their bid to push for a competitive target. But they continued losing wickets at regular intervals. India skipper Virat Kohli (13) was the first one to depart as he fell to Jamieson once again.
Cheteshwar Pujara (15) or Ajinkya Rahane (15) couldn't last long either. Rishabh Pant tried to make amends with some stroke play en route to his gritty 41, but in a bid to accelerate the scoring speed, he ended up holing one out Henry Nicholls.
Even the Indian tail-enders remained aggressive till the end but the lead of 138 was just not enough to pose any challenge to the strong NZ batting line-up. Even though Ravichandran Ashwin gave India a couple of wickets to celebrate, halting New Zealand’s march to the title always looked difficult. Coupled with batting woes, India suffered from below-par fielding too. Pujara’s dropped chance of Taylor in the 31st over and Jasprit Bumrah's blooper to give a lifeline to Williamson at the fag end of the match were perhaps the final few nails in the coffin.
All said and done, we have our first-ever WORLD TEST CHAMPIONS – New Zealand - take a bow!