SOUTHAMPTON: India captain Virat Kohli took on a rebuilding job for his team on Saturday, taking them to 120-3 by tea on the first day of play in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand.
Trent Boult dismissed the dour Cheteshwar Pujara after lunch before Kohli, on 35 at tea, combined with deputy Ajinkya Rahane to try to shore up the innings.
Rahane did not look entirely convincing against the moving ball and was batting on 13 when fading light forced an early break for tea.
After persistent rain washed out the entire opening day on Friday, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson unsurprisingly elected to field after winning the toss.
Under an overcast sky, India scored 69 runs but lost both their set openers in an evenly balanced morning session.
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill raised 62 runs for the opening partnership, negating the moving ball by standing outside the crease.
But Kyle Jamieson brought the flourishing stand to an end with a delivery that swung late. Rohit, having made a fluent 34, left his bat hanging and Tim Southee dived to his right to pouch the outside edge at third slip.
Neil Wagner was introduced late in the session, and the left-arm quick struck with his third delivery dismissing Gill caught behind for 28.
Pujara took 36 balls to get off the mark and, like Gill earlier in the match, was smacked on the helmet grille by a rising delivery which sent his neck guard flying.
Pujara made eight before Boult swung one back in to trap him lbw.
Both teams stuck to their strength with India picking both their spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — and New Zealand opting for an all-seam attack.
Organisers have allocated a reserve day to make up for lost time.
The one-off match marks the culmination of a two-year cycle of the inaugural WTC, launched in 2019 to create a pinnacle event for Test cricket.
INDIA (1st Innings):
R.G. Sharma c Southee b Jamieson 34
Shubman Gill c Watling b Wagner 28
C.A. Pujara lbw b Boult 8
V. Kohli not out 35
A.M. Rahane not out 13
EXTRAS (LB-1, NB-1) 1
TOTAL (for three wkts, 55.3 overs) 120
FALL OF WKTS: 1-62, 2-63, 3-88.
TO BAT: R.R. Pant, R.A. Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, I. Sharma, J.J. Bumrah.
BOWLING (to-date): Southee 12.3-3-34-0; Boult 11-1-29-1; Jamieson 12-7-14-1; de Grandhomme 11-6-23-0; Wagner 9-3-19-1 (1nb).
NEW ZEALAND: D.P. Conway, T.W.M. Latham, K.S. Williamson, L.R.P.L. Taylor, H.M. Nicholls, B.J. Watling, C. de Grandhomme, K.A. Jamieson, T.G. Southee, N. Wagner, T.A. Boult.
UMPIRES: M.A. Gough (England) and R.K. Illingworth (England).
TV UMPIRE: R.A. Kettleborough (England).
MATCH REFEREE: B.C. Broad (England).
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2021