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WTC Test Championship: From Underdogs to Champions: New Zealand Become the First World Test Champion

Williamson scored his much-awaited and deserving 50 while Taylor struck the winning runs for NZL, as they went on to win the WTC Test Championship!!!

WTC Test Championship

There’s a broadly disseminated notion among the netizens that the “Good boys don’t tend to have a good ending. They always settle for being the second-best, getting heartbroken in the process.” Two years ago, if you’d asked me about my reflection upon this, I would have had wholeheartedly accepted this conjecture. As havin’ to witness a dreadful climacteric where the cricketing game saw an unfortunate moment and the catastrophe whacked the Blackcaps, and in one swoop took all the hopes of a small cricketing nation from the pacific incessantly.

In the 2019 World Cup, New Zealand, whose lives had been termed the most magnanimous underdogs of the tournament, saw a progressive development. Two times straight ended up in the competition’s final, with an earlier stint being the last world cup of 2015. They were handed defeat by their Trans-Tasman adversary, Kangaroos, who boosted their record-breaking 5th Title. But the ICC regulations got the better of Blackcaps, as they bowed down to the English side and again had to drink the poison of disappointment and delinquency. The smiling picture of Kane Williamson, even in the defeat, did earn him the laurels and wreaths the fans from all across the world, and they could feel the anguishment and grief behind that smile. Setbacks after setbacks, sports fraternities have started belittling the NZL sides in their capability to finish off the big tournament, and it was also the time for the WTC Test Championship to kick start.

After almost two years of rigorous and gut-wrenching tournament amidst the pandemic, it was time for the final to occur in Southampton, England. New Zealand reiteratively contrived to find their way into the finals. A series victory over the host England after 28 years had them pumped up before going into the finals to face the hot favourite to win the championship and probably the best team in the fixture, India.

WTC Test Championship: From Underdogs to Champions: New Zealand Become the First World Test Champion

To even the odds

With Gabba in their pocket, Team India looked optimistic. It surged with confidence to finally end its eight years of drought of an ICC trophy in its cabinet, with the last one coming back in the year 2013 when they lifted the ICC Champions Trophy under the leadership of MS Dhoni. Since then, India hasn’t had a good time in the ICC tournaments, three times being thwarted in the semis and having fallen twice in the finals. So it was a precise moment for King Kohli to step up and showcase why he’s regarded as the most prolific and accentuated batsman in the open era. It’s not only the Haddock who makes up the team, but its distinctive crew members have also earned name and fame under the vast blue sky. The hope of 1.3 billion people heavily rested upon the shoulders of Pujara, Jadeja, Rahane, Bumrah, Ashwin and the new soaring luminary of the game, Rishabh Pant, whose Gabba heroics have earned him a stature.

While the New Zealand team was well balanced, Kane Williamson led the pack from the front and was well supported and assisted by veteran Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Boult and Southee from the rears. The rise of Kyle Jamieson and, later on, Devon Conway has earned them the right to be in the 11.

England has always been the fast bowler’s paradise with overcast conditions, a breezy environment, and moist pitches. Experts had termed the perfect setting for the fast bowlers to roll their arms on and benefit from cloudy conditions from the first bowl, with the ball swinging all across the pitch. Despite all these analyses, Captain Kohli and Ravi Shashtri still had their very own ideas. They fancied their chances and went on with their winning combination against all the odds and proportions.

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They “fiddled a gamble” of playing the trio quick of Bumrah, Ishant and Shami alongside two spinners, Ashwin and Jadeja, which was widely disputed and attracted a lot of criticism from former cricketers and fraternities. On the other hand, New Zealand went with the pitch prediction and decided to rest on his frontline spinner Ajaz Patel and opted to play the modern-day “Four men of Apocalypse”. Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson, with Colin De Grandhomme, were the fifth bowling option barely used in the second innings.

The legendary spinner Shane Warne wasn’t all that Gaga over NZL for not playing any spinner in the match and doubted their judgments.

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Match Day

Everything was set, and the auspicious WTC Test Championship final test match day arrived, but only for the Rain God drizzling throughout the day, with no remorse. Thus, the Day 1 of the test match was washed away even without a toss manifestation.

On Day 2, it was still sprinkling, but the toss finally transpired, with NZL winning the toss and opting to bowl first in the much-awaited and anticipated final of the WTC Test Championship.

Rohit Sharma and Shubhman Gill opened the innings for Team India, while the leading wicket-taker Tim Southee started the proceedings for the Blackcaps. The first hour of the match culminated with no setback to team India, with both the batters cautious of good deliveries that came nipping in and deposing the bad ones. The pitch had so much to offer to the bowlers, but both Southee and Boult had a hard time suppressing their nerve of plaYing in the final and kept attempting excess hard to pitch the ball up. The score ticked on, and both the openers started playing shots. Captain Kane felt the change in the air and brought the tall, lanky 6’8 Jamison. As a first change, there was an instant turnover.

Rohit Sharma was outfoxed and gave away a catch to Tim Southee in the slips at 34. Thereupon Shubhman Gill’s woes soon ended, with the latter trapped in front of the wicket on the score of 28 by Neil Wagner. Pujara was having a difficult time and even took more balls than Ab DE Villiers, who scored the fastest ODI century, to open his account. His toiling and gruesome inning of 8 runs was put to an end by the Thunder” Boult”. Captain Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane took on the task and patiently batted for the rest of the day, stitching a partnership. Amidst all this entertainment, the rain, too, decided to show up and take the spotlight. The match was again put under clasp due to the sudden downpour, and the rest was down and dusted due to bad floodlights. The score stood at 148 for 3.

Day 3 of the match saw the back of Captain Kohli, who was plumbed on the score of a tenacious hard-fought 44 on a beautiful ball of Jamieson. Pant, too, failed to impress as he knicked a ball that Tom Latham comfortably caught on the ball of Jamieson. Rahane, who was holding on to the other end too, ran out of patience, and in a quest to get a single for the much-deserved half-century, he was entrapped in a brilliant plan of Neil Wagner and Kane Williamson.

Ashwin played a few shots but couldn’t resist a wide-to-off delivery and was caught on 22. New Zealand didn’t put up with long to finish off the tail, and Team Indian was eventually bowled out at the score of 217. Kyle Jamieson claimed his 5th Fifer in his only 8th Test Match.

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WTC Test Championship: New Zealand Steady Innings

Out came the NZL batters, still wary of the seaming conditions and decided to avoid playing any dangerous-looking shots and continue the proceedings cautiously. Latham and Conway had a long hill to climb, filled with ditches and traps at each point still; they managed to score runs without losing any wickets in the session. In the last session, Latham was caught Virat Kohli on the bowling of Ashwin, who was looming to play over the head of Haddock. Meanwhile, Conway scored his half-century and looked promising in these circumstances. It seemed that NZL would close up the day with no more losses, but they got their mood spoiled by Jamieson’s counterpart, towering Ishant Sharma, who got the wicket of Devon Conway?

The score read 101 for 2 down at the end of the day’s play, with Conway scoring applauding 53 back in the hut. Ross Taylor took on the fields but managed to face only two deliveries before play was out to halt due to harmful lights. Team India looked dampened by the day’s play, and it took them a while to pick some wickets, but those last two wickets indeed insured a new life within them and rejuvenated their souls. With momentum on their sides, they awaited to go in the next day to play with confidence but only to find their spirits drowning in rain puddles.

Day 4 primarily washed out; the test match was approaching a draw. Twitter kept on scuttling with anxious and irritated fans’ tweets for ICC ruining a vital test match by having it play in England, was at this part of the year, the rain was a familiar phenomenon.

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Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor Sealed The Match

On Day 5, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor opened the proceedings. Taylor soon fell on the score of 13 in the bowling of Shami, with Gill taking a fabulous catch. Nicholls and BJ Watling couldn’t do much of the seaming wicket and failed to impact the match. Colin De Grandhomme looked to chip in with some runs quickly by counterattacking cricket but could not capitalise and go. He couldn’t read a straight ball from Shami and was found trapped in front of the wickets, with Umpire having no hesitation to raise his fingers.

What looked that NZL would be bundled out under 200 found its hopes again in Jamieson, who had impressed with the ball earlier. He scored a quick-fire 22 before giving a catch. Southern joined Williamson, and they made sure that NZL took the lead. Williamson, who was playing with a lot of grit and determination, soon ran out of patience. He heaved an outside ball to the slips and found himself walking back to the dressing room, short of a run from scoring his half-century. India again failed to end the tail, as it wagged a little, got some extra runs, and enlarged the lead to 32 runs. The last three of NZL managed to gain decisive information of a crucial 37 runs.

The day’s play crept towards the culmination and outcome of both the openers of the Indian team, who looked to steady the ship and ride through the rough waves of the Ocean. The pitch now was 5 days old; this has reduced the ability of the ball to swing and seam flawlessly, making the slope more competent for batting. But destiny has something else stored in for both the openers.

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They never looked comfortable against the pace attack of NZL. Having taken only one wicket in the first innings, Tim Southee was hungry for some grub in this innings. He bowled with fire and grit, pitching the ball up and swinging both ways, which eventually paid off and found Gill in front of the wickets. The latter has only managed to notch up 8 runs in this innings and was down and dusted for the rest of the match. Southee didn’t let the momentum go away, as before the day ended, he nipped one bowl inside and saw the back of Rohit Sharma, who decided against playing the ball and even didn’t take the DRS. Sharma played a coveted inning of 30 runs. Skipper Kohli joined Pujara, and both made sure no more wickets fell on Day 5.

Fans worldwide prayed for a decisive winner rather than the test match going into a draw, and guess what? Their prayers were thoroughly answered. The pivotal day 6 kick-started, and soon Jamison struck the first fatal blow to the Indian team when he made Skipper Kohli play a bowl outside off. He edged the bowl and played in his last match, and BJ Watling comfortably takes the catch. In quick succession, Pujara and Rahane and India were in trouble. Jadeja and Pant threw the yoke and tried to counterattack. Pant was relentless and fired from all cylinders after having his catch dropped by Southee off the bowling of Jamieson. He danced down the track and tried to play the ball with strength and tenacity.

The pugnacious Neil Wagner wanted to keep him back with occasional short balls and stares, but he unfazed much. On the other end, Jadeja too played some shorts, but not for long. Neil Wagner finally ended what was looking like a dangerous partnership. BJ Watling caught Jadeja at a score of 16. All hopes were shattered at the fall of the Pant’s wicket. Nicholls took a fine running catch and gave a signal for the collapse of the Indian batting line-up. Ashwin soon departed as he tried to score some quick runs; Boult had him knicked in the slips to Ross Taylor. Shami showed some good hands with the bat and struck 3 fours. He got an acceptable fielding placement. Indian was bundled out at the meagre score of 170, with an equally modest lead of 138 runs.

NZL required 139 runs to be crowned as the first World Test Champions. Latham and Conway took on the wheel and steadied the anchor. But Ashwin has some other ideas, as, like a cliff, he put two holes in their ship. Latham and Conway both departed with NZL in all sorts of trouble. Ross Taylor and Kane took over the wheels and steadied the ship. They batted patiently for the next hour.

They were respecting good deliveries and depositing bad ones to the fence. At the sight of victory, Williamson changed his gears and played some beautiful shots. Indian fielding was not up to the par of their first innings, as Pujara and Bumrah dropped chances to see the back of both Taylor and Kane. Williamson scored his much-awaited and deserving 50 while Taylor struck the winning runs for NZL, as they went on to win the WTC Test Championship!!!

 

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