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NZ is world test champion after beating India in final

June 23, 2021 GMT
New Zealand players celebrate with the winners trophy after their win in the World Test Championship final cricket match against India, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. New Zealand won the match by eight wickets. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
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New Zealand players celebrate with the winners trophy after their win in the World Test Championship final cricket match against India, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. New Zealand won the match by eight wickets. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
1 of 11
New Zealand players celebrate with the winners trophy after their win in the World Test Championship final cricket match against India, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. New Zealand won the match by eight wickets. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — For five days, New Zealand and India engaged in a staring contest on the south coast of England that engrossed the cricket world.

On the bonus sixth day, India blinked first.

New Zealand won a brilliant final of the inaugural world test championship by eight wickets on Wednesday at the Rose Bowl.

Captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, befitting two of New Zealand’s greatest batsmen, combined from 44-2 after the loss of the openers to reach the target of 139 with seven overs remaining.

Taylor hit the winning runs flicking a Mohammed Shami ball over midwicket. He was 47 not out and Williamson was 52 not out, only the second half-century of the final.

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“This is a very special feeling and one we haven’t had before, the first time we’ve come away with a world title,” Williamson said. “It’s a special achievement and one that will be celebrated and remembered.

“For us, we know we don’t always have the stars, we rely on a few other bits and pieces to stay in games and be competitive. All results were on the table here, it was just great to see the heart our team showed to get across the line.”

Typical of a match which was gripping despite being disrupted by two washed out days and bad light, the finish was tense on the reserve day.

India, 64-2 overnight, was remarkably bowled out for 170 in its second innings before tea, leaving New Zealand 139 to win in an extended 53 overs.

“The changing room was a lot calmer knowing we had two experienced guys out there,” veteran bowler Tim Southee said. “Probably the longest 139 runs I’ve experienced.”

India’s bowlers created chances and never gave up. Williamson was given out on 1 and overturned the decision on review, and he was dropped on 45. Taylor was dropped on 26, and hit flush on the front of his helmet on 30 but soldiered on.

They absorbed all of India’s considerable pressure in a stand of 96 to finish off for No. 1-ranked New Zealand a first International Cricket Council tournament victory in 21 years.

It also came only two years after New Zealand lost the Cricket World Cup final on countback at Lord’s. For six Black Caps — Williamson, Taylor, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls — who appeared in both finals, there was some consolation for 2019.

“This makes up for that,” Taylor said.

New Zealand scored 247 and 140-2 to India’s 217 and 170 in a glossy finale to the two-year test championship.

“They showed great consistency and heart to pull out a result ... sticking to their processes to put us under pressure,” Kohli said.

The Black Caps prevailed thanks to a deeper pace attack and batting lineup, but it was close.

India chose its two great spinners three days before the final and backed themselves even as the weather worsened as forecast in Southampton. New Zealand waited to name its team at the toss, delayed for a day by a first-day washout, and backed its strength by going for an all-pace attack tuned up from a series win over England, another historic milestone for the Kiwis.

The relentless barrage of balls swinging and seaming in ideal conditions -- overcast and moist -- wore down the frustrated Indians, who spent more than three weeks in quarantine and didn’t have a warmup game.

As in the first innings, all four bowlers delivered: Southee took four wickets, Boult three, man-of-the-match Kyle Jamieson 2-30 off 24 overs, and Neil Wagner one.

Jamieson got the ball rolling against overnight batsmen Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. Captain Kohli was set up by the 2.04-meter (6-foot-8) Jamieson for a second straight time with a faint edge behind on 13, and Pujara was caught well by Taylor at first slip on 15.

Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant pushed the lead to 77 until Rahane tried recklessly to flick Boult but was caught behind by BJ Watling. Watling later broke a finger but carried on as wicketkeeper on the last day of his 75th and final test.

Pant was dropped on 5 by Southee in the slips when India was 82-4 and leading by just 50 runs. New Zealand looked to rue the miss, but after scoring a team-high 41 from 88 balls, Pant couldn’t contain himself any longer and charged at Boult only to see Nicholls hanging on to a brilliant two-handed diving catch at point.

India’s long tail was brushed aside. The last four wickets went in 22 balls.

The target for New Zealand looked within reach but also distant.

Ashwin dug out the openers and appeared to nab the prized wicket of Williamson on 1. But Williamson got the decision overturned when video showed the ball missing leg stump.

Williamson and Taylor patiently took ones and twos and smacked the odd bad ball. They survived dropped catches and kept calm and carried on. New Zealand couldn’t have been in better hands.

“At the start of my career (in 2007), I felt we probably didn’t have the side to do this,” Taylor said. “There was a lot of pressure (today), it was nice to be standing up to it.”

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