WTC Final | Rose Bowl Day 2 Talking Points: Indian opener’s perfection and New Zealand’s tireless-bowling spectacle

India, after losing the toss, were in the ascendancy in the Rose Bowl, with Shubman Gill-Rohit Sharma getting India off to a flyer. However, New Zealand bowlers chipped in with wickets just before lunch and after lunch to crawl their way back into the encounter, with India ending the day on 146/3.

Brief Scores – India 146/3 (Virat Kohli 44*, Rohit Sharma 34, Kyle Jamieson 1/14) after day one’s play

Indian openers and their ‘passage’ of perfection

Playing in England is always a tough task for the openers, more when the conditions are overcast with the Dukes ball moving possessed. While both Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill showed their vulnerability up front, the way they handled the new ball in the aftermath was perfection. Rohit stayed hooked to his crease, with a late foot movement, Gill was on his front foot trodding his way to intercept the ball before it starts to swerve away. In the first session, the Indian openers interception point was 2.27m away from the stump, which ensured that they tackled the new ball that had 2.1 degrees of swing, according to Cricviz.

New Zealand bowlers to Shubman Gill © ICC

However, for New Zealand, only a handful of balls in the first 20 overs would have gone on to hit the stump, which showed a major concern and allowed the batsmen an easier pass. The boundaries were there every other over but more importantly, it led to New Zealand going for the short deliveries – one of the stronger suits for both the openers. To add more worries for the BlackCaps, the lack of a pacer, which would have forced the Indian openers back to their crease was missing. Even after being hit by a Kyle Jamieson steeper, the Indian youngster continued to walk down the ground, until his dismissal. Whichever way, the Indian openers played the first part of this five-day drama to utmost perfection, with an absolutely delightful narration. 

New Zealand’s tireless bowling spectacle

For the most part of the first 50 overs on day two, New Zealand had the ball swinging, seaming and do all kinds of crazy things – which on another day would have resulted in India finding themselves in a slumber. Barring their accuracy with the new ball, where only a handful of balls would have gone on to hit the stumps, the likes of Kyle Jamieson, Colin de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner ensured that the ball was always in sublime condition, to swing the ball from either end. The contest between Jamieson and Rohit culminated in the Indian opener walking back to the hut, which also incidentally, kick-started New Zealand’s control over the proceedings. 

In the overs from 10, after having control of just 55% with the ball, the Kiwi bowlers sharply increased the percentage to 78, which resulted in twin dismissals for India, with the openers being dismissed by sharp deliveries. Jamieson got a seam movement, which according to Cricviz, was 50% more than Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Boult, in his second spell, accounted for the rock-solid Pujara, with a delivery that swung 3.2 degrees into the right-hander. Not just that, during the first day, New Zealand bowlers got 2.24 degrees of swing, the most in any Test innings, with an expected total of 139-6, according to Cricviz’s Expected Wickets model.

For the BlackCaps, in particular, it was Jamieson, who gave no sort of freedom and room for the batsmen to swing their bat. In fact, only 7% of his deliveries were attacked in the first one and a half sessions of the second day’s play, which shows that the lanky pacer had made the Indian team sweat for their runs, in a session where they were ideally well set to make a big total.

Virat Kohli – the man on a mission

When Virat Kohli walked into the crease, India wasn’t in trouble entirely but surely were in a spot of bother – having started the innings in sublime fashion. Right, when Kohli was at the crease, New Zealand had employed all their best bowlers but the Indian skipper remained pretty much unfazed. While he had his share of trouble against New Zealand’s all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, he later came back in excellent fashion, with just a 7% false shot in the first session, which later did not change much. Further, the Indian skipper was very watchful with just 13% of his shots being attacking, even though he scored a brilliant boundary on the offside, through the V. Incidentally, it was also his third-lowest percentage in the area, with just 5% of his runs.

On the other hand, New Zealand were arguably at their best against the Indian skipper – bowling the fuller lengths against him, with Kohli only attacking it at 2.6 RPO, with 3.1 RPO against the short-balls. Although, around him, the batsmen had faltered, with the false-shot percentage ranging from 20 % in the morning session to 29% in the last session. However, the 32-year-old remained unfazed, with a control percentage of 87%, scoring 44 runs in 124 balls in the day, with just one boundary in the entire innings. Talk about control, determination and being unperturbed – Kohli was in the middle of it all. 

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