While everyone were staring at a draw when the day started, New Zealand's pacer bowlers, spearheaded by Jamieson turned the fortune around, bowling India out for 170. Needing 139, the BlackCaps openers were dismissed by Ashwin before Taylor-Williamson steered them home to win the WTC final.
Kyle Jamieson is made in the lab
With Kyle Jamieson, the expectation was on the high - after his debut against India at home. However, several expected the all-rounder to suffer his lapse of form in England, far away from home in New Zealand. But the lanky pacer isn’t just built that way, he makes the batsmen second guess themselves, be it Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli or Rishabh Pant. On Wednesday, his task was exactly that, to remove the two set-batsmen Kohli and Pujara out early for the BlackCaps to sniff a chance at a possible victory against India.
While Kohli was well set in the first innings by a back-nipper, Jamieson had it the different way in the second innings. Pitching it outside the fourth stump line, the lanky pacer got the ball just to straighten enough, getting the Indian skipper to edge the ball to the wicketkeeper, BJ Watling. Immediately in his next over, the pacer struck again to send back well-set Pujara, with the perfect plan for him. Good length, ball seaming away, a template that was well exploited in Australia by Pat Cummins often accounts for Pujara.
The Indian right-hander averages 19.58 against deliveries that seamed away from him, according to Cricviz. Against deliveries that are bowled on the good length, he just averages 6.21. Jamieson merely married the best of both worlds - good length and seaming away - to catch Pujara in a place of doubts, resulting in his dismissal. With Pujara not showing any attacking intent against the right-handed seamer, it was only a matter of time before the Indian batsman walked back. In the aftermath of these two wickets, Jamieson nearly dismissed Pant, only for Tim Southee to fluff up the line.
Ajinkya Rahane and a thrown-away start
Since the Melbourne century, Ajinkya Rahane has played 12 innings, where he has scored 263 runs, which includes a well-made 67 against England in Chennai. Even when it has been included, the right-handed Indian batsman, who also is India’s vice-captain, just averages 21.91. In case you were wondering, Travis Head, who played just two Tests against India in Australia, was dropped after just two games and he averaged 20.66. Now forget that, his only contribution in the last five innings, a 49 against New Zealand in the first innings of the World Test Championship final. This isn’t against Rahane or his place in the Indian team, this is more about how he has let the team horrifically down in situations where they need him the most.
In the first innings, on 49, having known that a fielder had just moved for the short-ball inside the inner circle, the Indian vice-captain hooked the ball straight into the hands of the fielder. Now part of the dismissal was because of Neil Wagner’s astonishing accuracy. But in the second innings, having got off to a start, with 15 runs off 40 deliveries, the Indian batsman knocked an innocuous delivery from Boult down the leg, straight into BJ Watling’s gloves. If there was a real setup, it was that Rahane was tempted into a shot down the leg, finding himself in a terrible position of playing that shot.
Ravichandran Ashwin and the re-defining bowling experience
On a day where the seamers, the pacers and the swing bowlers got away celebrating wickets, one after another, there was Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja staring at the barrel. In the first innings, the off-spinner had picked up two wickets - Tom Latham and Neil Wagner - but more importantly, showed why he is one bowler, who puts the pitch and the condition away from the playing field. So when the New Zealand pacers were running away with the wickets, it was well expected and speculated that the Indian pace trio - Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah - would be crucial to India's chances of starting the fourth innings on a high.
However, against the quick-bowlers, the openers - Latham and Conway - had an easier time, with plenty of gifts down the leg-side, which was pushed towards the boundary, either by the bat or by the pad. Ishant, Shami and Bumrah had bowled brilliantly in tandem early on before the New Zealand openers took the bowling attack on. Disjointed by the pace bowling efforts, the Indian skipper Virat Kohli had to look elsewhere, at Ashwin, to bring the Men in Blue back in the game. From the first over, that was exactly what the off-spinner was aiming to do - put the batsmen under immense pressure, even with the ball not spinning.
Against Latham, like in the first innings, Ashwin used pace as the variation, slowing it down, to a level where it tested the left-handed opener to take the charge. Like the first innings, Latham succumbed to the slower delivery, trying to force things, getting stumped in the process. While Kane Williamson was deemed out, a review saved him from walking back to the hut but Ashwin never gave him enough room to get runs. Similarly, against another left-hander, Conway, the off-spinner had the last laugh, with a ball that sharply sprung back to catch the southpaw plumb in front. Once again, against left-handers, the off-spinner showed his class, adding on to his average of 14.42 and strike rate of 38.46. SURREAL