Southampton [UK], June 22 (ANI): It was a game of patience in the first session of the fifth day in the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand. And going into the lunch break, it was undoubtedly India's session as Mohammed Shami picked two and Ishant Sharma picked one wicket to put the Kiwis in a spot of bother at 135/5 - still trailing by 82 runs in the first essay.
The big boost for the Kiwis is the presence of their skipper Kane Williamson at the middle. Williamson is batting on a 112-ball 19 and seems to be in no hurry to take on the Indian bowlers. Giving him company is Colin de Grandhomme (0 off 4).
With a constant drizzle delaying the start by an hour, the Indian bowlers had conditions tailor-made for them to start on fifth gear. But Ross Taylor and Williamson ensured they managed to miss the good balls and played out the ones which were in line of the stumps.
The first half an hour saw only 5 runs being scored and that showed the determination in both Taylor and Williamson's approach. While Jasprit Bumrah could have bowled slightly better in the conditions, Shami and Ishant kept trying to add to the tension as they maintained a disciplined approach. It was about who breaks first.
And Shami finally broke through as he got Taylor to drive on the up, only for Shubman Gill to come up with a smart diving catch at short mid-off. Taylor's 37-ball 11 was all about battling. With Shami drawing first blood of the day, Henry Nicholls joined the skipper in the middle.
But Ishant finally reaped the reward of putting in the hard yards as he got one to take the edge of Nicholls' bat and Rohit Sharma picked a brilliant catch in the slip cordon. Shami wasn't done yet either as he bowled a jaffer to send back BJ Watling. The ball moved away enough after pitching the miss the edge of the bat and hit the stump as the wicket-keeper walked back having made just 1.
The break would have come as a blessing in disguise for the Kiwi batsmen as the Indian bowlers were looking in great rhythm and ready to go for the kill.
With play being washed off on the first and fourth day, the game is set to go into the reserve day and a first innings lead could mean all that much more as both teams would wish to go for the kill with the WTC title on the line.
Brief Scores: India 217; New Zealand 135/5 (Devon Conway 54; Ishant Sharma 2/27, Mohammed Shami 2/31). (ANI)