The first-ever final of the World Test Championship started off in an ominous fashion. The weather at Southampton was dull and the heavens opened up – the rain poured down persistently and even the toss was not possible. The first day of the Test was abandoned and for the rest of the days, the teams would play an extra half hour each.
— ICC (@ICC) June 23, 2021
On Day 2, only two sessions were able to progress.
When bad light curtailed the second day to just 64.4 overs after the first day was washed out, India, asked to bat in challenging conditions against a deep attack, were 146 for 3 and, you’d suspect, the happier side.
New Zealand were a bit disappointed but not despondent: it could have been worse after a 62-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill as Tim Southee and Trent Boult got off to an uncharacteristically indifferent start.
Congratulations @BLACKCAPS. Quality performance. Deserved win ??
— Sir Vivian Richards (@ivivianrichards) June 23, 2021
Towards the end of the day, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane looked sublime in fading light, playing the ball delightfully late and biding their time as New Zealand didn’t offer easy scoring opportunities.
Both sides would have liked to have had a bowl after the pitch had been under covers for two days and with the sun unlikely to make an appearance.
The coin fell Kane Williamson’s way, but his opening bowlers didn’t get his side off to the desired start.
— ICC (@ICC) June 23, 2021
On the third day, Seven wickets for 71 runs with the ball, two wickets for 101 runs when batting. New Zealand wrested back control of the World Test Championship final after the first day that would have left them nervous after they had won the toss and inserted India.
Kyle Jamieson picked up his fifth five-for in just his eighth Test to deny India the impregnable position they would have hoped for after ending the second day at 146 for 3. Devon Conway then unsurprisingly became the first half-centurion of the match before leaving the door ajar for India, falling minutes before bad light ended the day’s play prematurely.
Persistent rain allowed no play on day four of the World Test Championship (WTC) final, leaving India and New Zealand a maximum of 196 overs – including the reserve day – to identify an outright winner.
On a good day for New Zealand, the @bookingcom Best Wickets is dominated by Blackcaps.
— ICC (@ICC) June 23, 2021
On Day 5, A defensive masterclass from Kane Williamson eliminated a defeat for New Zealand in the World Test Championship final, but India were resolute in the session they got to bat, losing just two wickets and ending the penultimate day 32 runs ahead.
It needed Tim Southee’s genius to price out the openers in arguably the best conditions of a Test that has proved to be torrid for the batsmen that a result could have been possible and it was possible on the reserve day.
To Kane and all of the boys.
We love you ❤️??
— Brendon McCullum (@Bazmccullum) June 23, 2021
On Day 5, the reserve day, there was no heartbreak for New Zealand – Two years after they lost out on the ODI World Cup without actually losing the final, glorious late-evening sunshine saw New Zealand through to their first world title, the inaugural World Test Championship. It was well past regulation closing time on the reserve day – the sixth of the match, which featured only three-and-a-half days of actual cricket because of bad weather.
New Zealand began the final day – on which the ICC guaranteed 98 overs weather permitting, never mind the over rates – needing eight wickets before they could get to bat and knock off the runs conceded plus the 32 India were in the clear at the end of day five. They managed to take a wicket every five-and-a-half overs with precise planning and execution of those plans by a relentless attack.
Congratulations @BLACKCAPS a humble, hardworking and outstanding Test team- worthy champions
— Mike atherton (@Athersmike) June 23, 2021
A target of 139 in 53 overs was achieved without breaking enough sweat.
New Zealand, deservingly, the best test team in the world at present.
“Certainly is a very special feeling. A couple of close ones and then to get one [final win is special],” Williamson said before collecting the Test Championship trophy.
“India are a formidable side and we knew coming into the game it was going to be an incredibly tough challenge.”
— Mahela Jayawardena (@MahelaJay) June 23, 2021
“It’s the pinnacle, isn’t it, being involved in the final,” he added in the post-match press conference.
“Even coming into the last day, although it was staggered with the weather and all the delays that we had, all results were on the table. It was just great the heart the team showed to take it across the line.”
“We saw both teams grab the momentum at certain points in time, and then to have the sixth day as back-up made for a fantastic game to be a part of. For us, it’s a very proud moment in our history and a proud moment, just as a team really, to stick to what we do well and come away with the win, which is a really great feeling.”
A great story of redemption for Kane Williamson after the heartbreak 2 years ago. Nice for Ross Taylor to finally get ICC silverware. New Zealand are popular winners. India have helped to make it a Beautiful occasion. #ICCWorldTestChampionship final.
— Ian Raphael Bishop (@irbishi) June 23, 2021
Virat Kohli was not happy to lose the final after enjoying an absolute purple-patch down under and at home against England.
But, still, he sounded positive.
“You can’t be too worried about getting out because you are [then] bringing the bowler into the game completely and not moving the game forward. We know that, as a batting unit, if we consistently put up 300 on the board then it is a different kind of pressure on the opposition with the kind of bowlers that we have,” said Virat Kohli.
“The idea from here on will be to try to score runs and not worry about getting out in testing conditions,” Kohli said.
“That’s the only way you can score and put the opposition under pressure, otherwise you’re just literally standing there hoping that you don’t get out and eventually you will because you’re not being optimistic enough.”
“I think you have to take more risks and calculated risks and be confident about taking those risks against a quality bowling attack like New Zealand.”
But, it’s time for Kane Williamson and his men to relish the moment.