New Delhi: The New Zealand team on Wednesday created history as they won the inaugural World Test Championship final (WTC) against India by eight wickets at Southampton. With a lead of 32 runs on the reserve day (essentially the last day of the Test match) India kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were eventually bowled out for 170, giving Kiwis a target of 139 runs to win the Test match. After the initial hiccup of losing both the openers quickly, New Zealand reached the target easily. Here’s is a look at the crunch moments of the game that tilted the contest in favour of the Kiwis.

  1. The weather God: India were at the receiving end of overcast conditions for the most part of the first couple of days when they were batting as the ball moved around quite a bit. Too many stoppages in play don’t do any good to the batsman and although India were circumspect for the most part of the second day. after the first day was washed out due to rain, the third day saw the Indian team lose wickets in clusters. By the time the New Zealand openers came in to bat, the conditions were still overcast with the odd ball still doing a fair bit but the Indian bowlers failed to produce the edge which meant New Zealand ended the third day’s play with their noses in front.
  2. Losing the Toss: With rain round the corner and overcast conditions, it was ideal for swing bowlers to come into play and fortunately for New Zealand, Kane Williamson called it right at the toss. The Indian skipper would have opted to field first in all likelihood as well in order to take advantage of the conditions. It was an important toss to win and the Kiwis made full use of it after giving away the initial advantage at the end of the second day’s play.
  3. Bowling the wrong length: Just like the New Zealand bowlers on the second day of the Test match, their Indian counterparts made the same mistake of not bowling full enough that would force the batsman to come forward and commit to a false shot. While the New Zealand bowlers did rectify their mistake on the third day’s play, India struggled to get it in the right areas collectively and eventually when Mohammed Shami did, the Indians were back in the contest on the fifth morning.
  4. No runs from tailenders: The tailenders failed to make any significant contribution to the total as India were bowled out for 217 in the first innings after having their noses in front at 148 for 3 at the end of the second day’s play.
  5. Failing to remove tailenders: While the Indian tailenders failed to make any significant contribution to the total, the New Zealand tailers helped their team to get a crucial 32-run first-innings lead. The Kiwis added 57 for the last four wickets compared to India’s 12.
  6. Shami’s extended spell: While Shami was the pick of the bowlers for India, Kohli could have opted for Jasprit Bumrah to finish off the tail when the tail had already started to wag for New Zealand. Bumrah has a lot of variations including the yorker and the slower ball which could have come in handy against Tim Southee who had scored 30 off 46 balls before getting cleaned up by Ravindra Jadeja.
  7. Lack of match practice: New Zealand had come from a series against England that they won 1-0 while the only match practice India got was the intra-squad match just before the all-important final. There is no substitute to match practice and playing against a county side would have been more fruitful than playing against each other. But then again, the times we are living in, with the hard quarantine and all, there is not much India could have done about it.