That is stumps
That is also stumps. New Zealand will love what they have managed today, dragging India back with seven wickets for just 71 runs and then scoring 101 themselves for the loss of just two wickets. The full report on the day that belonged to Kyle Jamieson and Devon Conway is in the works. See you tomorrow.
The extravagant flick
That is a shot that Devon Conway loves. He flicks with a flourish if you overpitch on the pads. Remember how he found out the fielder in the last Test? He has done it again, this time wide mid-on. There was build-up to this shot: three straight maidens, 26 dot balls, and Conway saw some release in that leg-side half-volley and ended up playing a touch early and chipping it to Mohammed Shami at wide mid-on.
Between the wicket and Ross Taylor’s arrival, they check the light and deem it good enough to continue. Remember how New Zealand lost crucial wickets to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in fading light at Eden Gardens in 2016-17?
New Zealand 101 for 2 in 48.4 overs. Conway gone for 54 off 153 balls.
PS: As it usually happens, the umpires take players off for bad light just after a wicket has fallen.
First fifty of the match
Quite unsurprisingly, it has come from Devon Conway, the find of this summer. He has looked as assured as one can on this pitch and against bowling of this quality. He has progressively picked up the scoring rate. New Zealand 99 for 1 in 44 overs.
Ashwin the conjurer
Shiva Jayaraman has tried to put numbers here to “being threatening irrespective of conditions”. It is not perfect but is as good as it can be without the help of HawkEye data on spin. Here he is
Eyebrows would have been raised when both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were included in the playing XI, notwithstanding the conditions that were expected with the inclement weather around. If you had to drop one of R Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja, who was it going to be? While Jadeja’s batting and fielding add a lot more all-round value to the side compared with Ashwin, the offspinner offers something that the Indian team management has perhaps come to realize in recent times: the ability to create something irrespective of the conditions. Ashwin was the first to take a wicket here, as he has been on eight previous occasions when India haven’t taken a wicket in the first 20 overs of an innings. No other bowler since 2010 has provided his team the breakthrough after 20 overs more often. New Zealand’s Tim Southee is next in this list with seven such dismissals.
New Zealand 76 for 1 in 39 overs.
Ashwin finds the breakthrough
The discipline of Ashwin pays off for the first wicket for spin in this Test. Tom Latham started this session with a hard-hands drive first ball, and has played the kind of shot he has been avoiding two balls after the drinks break. Yes, Ashwin got dip on this, he has been playing around with his pace too, but Latham has done without driving away from the body so far. Here he has done just that and chipped to short extra cover.
New Zealand 70 for 1. Latham gone for 30 off 104.
India still looking for a breakthrough
Devon Conway and Tom Latham keep growing in confidence as they get surer and surer of what the pitch is doing. Classic batting against high-quality seam bowling. India might not be swinging it, but the ball is still doing enough to keep them interested. But they are a three-man seam attack, which means the fourth bowler is only doing a limiting job, which R Ashwin has done quite well, bowling zero bad balls in eight overs for just 10 runs. New Zealand’s control percentage stays around 83, but the real chances are getting fewer.
New Zealand 70 for 0 in 34 overs. Conway 38 off 102, Latham 30 off 102.
Another half hour gone
Six overs, 18 runs, no further wicket. Tom Latham has edged one between third slip and gully, and once driven uppishly through mid-off. Still the key figure is no wicket has fallen. New Zealand 54 for 0 in 27 overs. And the important discussion is between seam and swing. India are predominantly seam bowlers, New Zealand swung it a lot. That was the difference back in New Zealand too. However, India looked similarly comfortable against the new ball before the slightly older ball started to cause them problems. They will hope so for sure, but right now their fans will be nervous.
Openers go to tea
This has definitely been New Zealand’s session. They took out the last three Indian wickets for just six runs, and then their openers have batted out the testing period to tea for no loss. India haven’t let them run away, conceding just 36 runs in 21 overs. They came close to getting a wicket, especially Mohammed Shami, who took the shoulder of the bat only for the ball to sail over the cordon. New Zealand’s control percentage is 83, which means they have survived 22 false responses without losing a wicket. India were bowled out in 108 of those.
New Zealand trail by 181 runs, and if light stays good we are in for another humdinger of a session. Quite a long one too: possibly more than three hours.
Tom Latham has left alone 15 balls in his 30. He leaves a lot of balls. On length many of them. This is quite a contest going on with Ishant Sharma looking to bowl straight with a strong leg-side field to make him play. Jasprit Bumrah is trying to get closer to him without getting straight. They will also remember perhaps how Mohammed Shami got him out leaving the ball in Christchurch last year. Also it takes courage to keep trusting your leaves if you are Latham. He has been dismissed four times leaving the ball in Tests.
New Zealand 17 for 0 after nine overs.
Five time, five time, five time, five time, five time
Kyle Jamieson takes out Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah in successive balls to seal his fifth five-wicket haul in a young career. That’s the most five-fors for anyone in this WTC cycle. Ishant gone fishing, and Bumrah – promoted ahead of Mohammed Shami – trapped by a yorker.
Minutes later, following a long sight-screen adjustment break, Ravindra Jadeja edges down the leg side for India to be bowled out for 217. They will be disappointed after they started the day at 146 for 3, but won’t mind this score overall because the conditions continue to be helpful for bowling. There is swing, there is seam, and the sun has gone hiding again.
India’s control percentage yesterday was close to 85 yesterday but it has now come down to 80. It has taken 108 balls of false responses for India to be bowled out.
The stat of the innings, courtesy Nasser Hussain: zero byes in the innings. BJ Watling was exceptional behind the wicket in his last Test. He will have crucial work to do in front too.
India 217 in 92.1 overs (Rahane 49, Kohli 44, Jamieson 5-31)
Post-lunch session is on
And the sun is out
Southee drops Jadeja
Finally a dropped catch by New Zealand, Tim Southee reprieving Ravindra Jadeja just before lunch. You might say a good session for New Zealand – and they have contained damage by getting Virat Kohli early – but India will be happy with the score on the board. They still have three wickets in hand, one of them Jadeja. This is already a very good score for these conditions. This session, though, did belong to New Zealand with four wickets falling for 65. You just can’t look away from this action-filled Test. India 211 for 7 in 89 overs with Jadeja and Ishant Sharma at the wicket.
Ashwin plays a crucial hand
R Ashwin has missed out on a few selections in recent times on account of being lesser the batter than Ravindra Jadeja these days, but that SCG rearguard has been a bit of a turning point. He batted beautifully in treacherous conditions, dropping his wrists when Neil Wagner bowled short at him and then playing some eye-catching drives on the up. One edge flew over the cordon, but even then he went hard at it, giving a possible edge every chance to fly over. Eventually an edge went straight to second slip, but his 23-run stand with Jadeja took India past 200. That is already a good score in these conditions.
India 205 for 7 in 85.5 overs. Ashwin gone for 22 off 27 balls.
It is a long way down from there
No slip. Two men behind square on the leg side. Two men just in front. One at midwicket. Three balls from Wagner to go before he will likely be taken off because the new ball will be available. Wagner bowls the short ball, Rahane looks to pull, tries to keep it down, but it is a long way down from that awkward chest height. And he is caught at forward square leg some 30 yards from the bat.
It is possibly a miscalculation from Rahane. He doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in New Zealand when they just shut him out with the short ball for hours, but the new ball is just around and this plan is not going to be a prolonged one.
Rahane goes for it, and pays the price after a superb innings whose hallmark was how late he played the ball. The thing with this New Zealand attack is that – on these tracks, mind, and not in Asia – you can exhaust yourself surviving two or three sets of plans and then there is always one more examination. India 182 for 6 in 78.4 overs. Rahane gone for 49 off 117 balls.
12.2 overs, 25 runs, 2 wickets
You will have to call that New Zealand’s morning so far, but Rahane and Jadeja have added 15 in 3.2 overs in this partnership. And this seem likes a pitch where runs will be at a huge premium. India are 171 for 5, which is not a bad score at all given how much the pitch is doing. And it is time for the first drinks break of the day.
And now Kyle Jamieson has removed Rishabh Pant. A wide tempter, and a shackled Pant has a go at it, edging through to second slip. Pant got off the mark with the 20th ball he faced. And that was because Jamieson went straight looking for the lbw.
This is almost a pitch where you are better off bowling a defensive line, especially when you have a five-man seam attack. Just keep the runs down, and the wicket-taking ball will come. Don’t risk giving away easy runs by going searching. New Zealand have followed that plan this morning, and taken two wickets for 10 runs in nine overs.
India 156 for 5 in 73.4 overs. Pant gone for 4 off 22
Fans’ day out
Nagraj Gollapudi is your eyes and ears. Here he reports from before the start of play
A sport fan’s experience is unique. Between watching high-quality skill, there are also frustrating waits. However, watching the players in flesh, watching them train and play, watching them having fun during warm-ups – these are things that make it an enriching experience.
Dank, damp, soggy it might have been in Southampton the last three days, including Sunday, but the fans, majority of them Indians, have not been deterred. They have filled up to the 25% capacity allowed currently in England at sports stadia and made the noise and created a buzz without which this Ultimate Test might have sounds hollow. The fans are the biggest stakeholders in the end, and both the ICC and even the players recognise that.
Indian captain Virat Kohli might have a lot of things on his mind, but on Sunday, about three quarters of an hour from start of play, he heard a young Indian fan call him. The youngster, just about 10 years old, just wanted Kohli to acknowledge him to begin with [Editor’s note: Was it Roman reigns in disguise?]. Walking up the stairs leading to the dressing room, Kohli stopped mid-stride, gave a smile and thumbs-up. Next he asked the youngster, “Having a good time?”. The youngster was jubilant. His parent asked Kohli whether he could take a picture. Kohli said: yes, after the match.
That youngster might keep this story for life. It is just another example of the what being a fan means.
On the field, the ball is doing all sorts, and Rishabh Pant has just survived a marginal lbw call. It returned an umpire’s call on hitting the leg stump so the not-out call stayed. India 150 for 4 after 71 overs. Pant yet to open his account having faced 13 balls.
Kohli gets that rare jaffa
As Nasser Hussain has told you if you are watching the telly, Kyle Jamieson is easy to leave. According to HawkEye projections, only seven out of 94 balls from Jamieson will have gone on to hit the wicket. That seventh was the one that got Kohli out lbw. And thus ends another mini classic from Kohli. I know you are counting days since he scored a hundred, but I have rarely seen him bat better. He is so in control of what he is doing. He has been batting better than he did in 2018 where he left himself open to chance. The hundreds will come. Till then, enjoy the Kutty Classics.
India 149 for 4 in 67.4 overs. Virat Kohli gone for 44 off 132 balls.
Kohli v de Grandhomme
He is all set to end up as a handful of all-time great batsmen. His response to the quickest of quicks has been to cut down the distance between him and the bowler. “Treat them like a spinner,” Sachin Tendulkar told him.
He is a trundler. A typical New Zealand dibbly dobbly. Ironically he is called Sir Colin in cricketing circles because to an outsider it can seem he is being given the respect that should be reserved for Sir Garry but for no apparent reason.
Yet Virat Kohli has chosen to show great respect to Colin de Grandhomme. He got out to him in New Zealand last year. Then played and missed here. Played out three straight maidens.
The consensus here is this: Kohli has prepared so much against high pace that this nagging pace and equally nagging line and length in seaming conditions is a bit of a blind spot. And that is the beauty of international cricket: a blind spot – I hesitate to call it a weakness – can emerge from anywhere.
Kohli’s response has been the most fascinating. He has not tried to stamp his authority. He has looked Mitchell Johnson in the eye and hooked him all over MCG. Here he is forced to play out de Grandhomme. And he has. There is a good chance if he goes driving it will come off, and Kane Williamson will be forced to take de Grandhomme off. But there is also a good chance he might nick one. Or play uppishly to cover. He has not taken that risk. He wants the scoreboard and the team score to stamp his authority.
This is a master batsman acknowledging an unlikely nemesis and doing whatever it takes to not give him his wicket. And de Grandhomme’s pace and line is the worst possible pace and line of you are looking to leave balls. Kohli has defended 15 and left alone eight of the 31 balls he has faced from de Grandhomme. Thirty-one balls, five runs, one dismissal is not a pretty reading for this match-up, but Kohli knows it is the final India scorecard reading that matters.
Looking at an 11am start
The inspection is over, and we are looking at a half-an-hour delay because of the wet outfield. An 11am start is what we are hearing of.
It’s been a rainy morning here in Southampton and the covers have just been removed.
— BCCI (@BCCI) June 20, 2021
How you doin’?
After the high of a finale-fitting but brief contest yesterday, how you doin’? How is the appetite for more? We are not yet sure of a timely start, though. We are hearing of an inspection at 10.20am. The problem seems to be the amount of overnight rain and the lack of sun in the morning to dry it out. We will keep you updated about that and more.
Since the time Andrew Miller posted the above-quoted tweet, the covers have come off so at least the signs are positive.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo