Frontrunners in the World Test Championship marathon, India lost steam to come up short against New Zealand at the final frontier.
The lack of adequate runs on the board in the first innings left India playing catch-up for the remainder of the game. The Quint brings to you the performance card of Virat Kohli & Co. from the grand finale.
Shubman Gill: 5/1028 & 8
The youngster, in his maiden Test in England, looked at home against the swinging new ball as he got India off to a flier with a breezy 28 off 64 balls in the first innings. Gill showed respect to the good balls but didn’t hold back his shots either, with an authoritative pull against Trent Boult easily the best of the lot, followed closely by a scintillating on-drive to Kyle Jamieson.
However, he would be kicking himself at not being able to convert his starts. The diving catch to send Ross Taylor packing lends him an extra point.
Rohit Sharma: 6/1034 & 30
Bitten by the thirties bug in both innings, Rohit couldn’t produce a score of note but ticked the ‘time spent at the crease’ box. His calm demeanour versus the dark-red cherry in typical English conditions would’ve sealed the lips of many a critic who label him a flat-track bully. It would have been great from India’s point of view if Rohit didn’t flatter to deceive, but nonetheless, his overall tally of 64 runs in the match fetch him half-a-dozen points.
Cheteshwar Pujara: 3/10 8 & 15
Normal services resumed for India’s middle-order rock as he blunted 134 balls across the two innings. He did the hard yards early on but just when the time was ripe to inject some momentum into his knocks, New Zealand took him out of the equation.
The jury is out on the viability of his shut-shop approach in conditions where a ball with your name written on it is always lurking around the corner.
Ajinkya Rahane: 7/1049 & 15
Rahane’s 49 was instrumental to India’s stabilisation in the first innings, though his mode of dismissal - failing to keep a pull down - raised eyebrows. He must’ve cursed his luck in the second dig as he was strangled down the leg after getting his eye in. Rahane is rated 7 as he aggregated the top individual score for India in the high-stakes clash.
Virat Kohli: 6/1044 & 14
The Indian skipper fares decently due to his captaincy tactics, which were often on the mark. Kohli was the beacon of energy in the field and chugged along nicely with the bat in both innings, though he couldn’t quite measure up to the expectations of big runs as Kyle Jamieson proved his nemesis twice.
Rishabh Pant: 6/104 & 41
The pocket dynamite that is Pant dealt a counterpunch to raise a vital 41 off 88 deliveries in the second innings. He played a shot too many and eventually succumbed to Boult, but if not for his contribution India wouldn’t have dragged the game as deep as they did in New Zealand’s chase. Pant’s keeping has grown by leaps and bounds as well. His neat collection behind the sticks was a massive upgrade from his last outing with the gloves in England, where he struggled to cope with the wobble.
Ravichandran Ashwin: 9/102-28 & 2-17, 22 & 7
Though his exploits in Australia should’ve put that debate to bed, Ravi Ashwin had the ball on a string and provided crucial breakthroughs to quash the jeers of a rank-turner tormentor once and for all. He extracted purchase in terms of drift and vindicated his selection with two wickets apiece in both innings. There were also a few quality strokes in his 22 off 27 in the first essay.
Ravindra Jadeja: 5/101-20 & 2-25, 15 & 16
The left-arm orthodox sent down merely 7.2 overs in the first innings, though he was a touch expensive in the second dig with an economy of three. Both the starts he got with the bat were squandered and his unenterprising ways while batting alongside India’s floppy tail give ample room for scrutiny too. In a nutshell, Jadeja failed to live up to his billing in the mega event.
Mohammad Shami: 8/104-76 & 0-31, 4* & 13
The speed merchant was the pick of the bowlers of the first innings, hitting the perfect lines and lengths to spark New Zealand’s collapse. His victims included sheet anchor Ross Taylor, BJ Watling and Colin de Grandhome. Returning from a six-month injury layoff, Shami bowled with vim and vigour and deserves an 8-pointer for his seaming heroics.
Ishant Sharma: 6/103-48 & 0-21, 4 & 1*
A lot was riding on Ishant Sharma’s display as India’s bowling attack came at loggerheads with New Zealand’s stickability in the race for the title. And the experienced campaigner rose to the occasion, picking the key wickets of Devon Conway and Kane Williamson in the first innings. Ishant got the ball to jag away while generating awkward bounce to keep the Kiwi batsmen honest, albeit his efficacy dipped a smidgen on the final day.
Jasprit Bumrah: 4/100-57 & 0-35, 0 & 0
India’s pace spearhead punched below his weight when his team desperately wanted him to click. Bumrah went wicketless in the winner-takes-all encounter, although his nine maidens in the first innings ensured New Zealand were under the cosh as Shami and Ishant reaped the rewards from the other end. Safe to say, India were let down by their slingy-armed assassin at the most inopportune juncture.
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