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India taking 8 wickets and 32-run lead into WTC final day

June 22, 2021 GMT
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New Zealand's Tim Southee, right, celebrates the dismissal of India's Rohit Sharma, left, during the fifth day of the World Test Championship final cricket match between New Zealand and India, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
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New Zealand's Tim Southee, right, celebrates the dismissal of India's Rohit Sharma, left, during the fifth day of the World Test Championship final cricket match between New Zealand and India, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — India was 64-2 and leading New Zealand by 32 runs in the world test championship final at stumps on Tuesday heading to a rare sixth and final day.

Two full days -- Friday and Monday -- have been washed out at the Rose Bowl, bringing into play the reserve day, a sunny Wednesday with 98 overs on offer.

The brilliant quality of the bowling offers the prospect of someone winning, but a draw remains likely, which would declare co-champions from the inaugural final.

Sharing the prize could tamper the ambitions of dynamic captains Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, in a fascinating final in which neither team has managed to escape the clutches of the other.

India conceded a 32-deficit on the first innings, but finished the fifth day 32 runs ahead for the loss of openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma, both pinned by Tim Southee.

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Cheteshwar Pujara will resume on 12 not out, and Kohli on 8.

Williamson marshalled New Zealand to first-inning honors of 249 in reply to India’s 217.

“The game is pretty well poised but with some more time it would be better,” India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin told the BBC.

“We’ll settle for this ... two good teams and a great contest going on. We’ve played for all these years and you want to see something come (from it). Ninety-eight overs is a little too few from our point of view but you take it how it comes.

“You play it by the hour. That first hour is very important. If we get through it then get some runs we can really set up something for the back half of the day. If we can get the runs going we’re set up for a good finish.”

New Zealand started the day with an edge at 101-2 and its two best batsmen in the middle, Williamson and Ross Taylor.

But after drizzle delayed the start, the India quicks exploited ideal overcast conditions to put a squeeze on the Kiwis and prise out Taylor (11), Henry Nicholls (7) and BJ Watling (1) in the space of seven overs close to lunch.

In the face of precision bombing by Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, New Zealand hunkered down and eked out only 34 runs in 23 overs in the session.

Williamson faced 75 balls in the session and crawled from 12 overnight to 19 at lunch.

With typical serenity, the skipper opened up after lunch and corralled his fifth, sixth, and seventh partnerships of the innings to edge New Zealand in front.

The most valuable stand was from 162-6 with budding allrounder Kyle Jamieson, whose relatively quickfire 21 runs off 16 balls stole Indian hopes of keeping the Kiwis in deficit.

An exquisite cover driven boundary by Williamson overhauled India’s 217 but, shortly after, he played a rare false shot at Shami and was caught in the slips by Kohli. Williamson endured 177 balls for his 49.

He was the eighth man down and Southee was the last after two sixes and a boundary in a 30 lifted New Zealand to a deserved 32-run lead.

Shami led India’s attack with 4-76, Sharma took 3-48, and spinners Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja finished off.

Southee’s energetic batting carried over to his bowling. After taking only one wicket in the first innings, he was buzzing as he trapped Gill with an inswinger on 8, and tricked fellow opener Rohit Sharma on 30 with a straight one into his back pad moments from the close.

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