Southampton, June 24 (Stuff) – New Zealand sits atop the cricketing world, sweeping aside India in the World Test Championship final in a monumental result after some recent big match nightmares.
Yes, Kane Williamson’s Black Caps are world champions, at last. They completed an eight-wicket win over Virat Kohli’s India at Southampton on Wednesday, slaying cricket’s giants in the inaugural test decider that wrapped up at 5.35am on a New Zealand winter morning.
Chasing just 139 to win off 53 overs, they were guided home by Williamson (52 not out) and Ross Taylor (47 not out) the men for the moment, who steadied the ship in a 96-run stand to spark wild celebrations on their balcony. The skipper led brilliantly and set it up with a five-hour marathon knock of 49 in the first innings, on a pitch all batsmen found hard work.
Spin whiz Ravichandran Ashwin threatened to spoil the party, removing a charging Tom Latham (9) and Devon Conway (19) to cause some early jitters, after India set a skinny target when bowled out for 170.
New Zealand’s top-two test runscorers provided the cool heads via some luck, with Williamson successfully challenging an Ashwin lbw decision on one and Taylor surviving a Cheteshwar Pujara drop on 26. A flurry of savage cuts and classical cover drives from the pair when India’s weary bowlers strayed were enough to avert any heart flutters.
It doesn’t get any bigger for these Black Caps, a deserved victory for a side who played like they deserved their mantle and dominated India for much of an intense contest amid rain showers.
“It would have to be the [career] highlight, to say you’re world champions,” an emotional Taylor told Sky TV. “At the start of my career we probably didn’t think we had the side to do that, but the way the team built over the years and stayed together… this is for the fans [in the stands] and back home, they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin, and hopefully there’s a few Kiwis waking up who are very proud.”
Already No 1 in the International Cricket Council’s rankings, this was New Zealand’s eighth win from their last nine tests as they clutched the ICC mace and pocketed US$1.6 million (NZ$2.27m) in prizemoney.
This one looked ruined by washouts on days one and four, and required a brilliantly fine reserve day to get it done at the Hampshire Bowl, preferred to the original venue Lord’s as a biosecure stadium amid a global pandemic. Covid restrictions allowed entry to just 4000 fans a day, with the New Zealand contingent in various shades of supporters’ kit doing a fine job of matching India’s on decibel levels.
Day six of the World Test Championship final at Southampton:
India 217 and 170 (Rishabh Pant 41, Rohit Sharma 30; Tim Southee 4-48, Trent Boult 3-39) lost to New Zealand 249 and 140-2 (Kane Williamson 52no, Ross Taylor 47no) by 8 wickets.