Virat Kohli was battling hard for India as they fought their way to 120 for three at tea on day two of the World Test Championship final.
After a washout at the Ageas Bowl on Friday, Test cricket’s inaugural winner-takes-all showpiece finally got into its stride as the Black Caps opted to bowl under leaden skies, with conditions seemingly perfect for their five-man seam attack.
But the new ball was largely wasted as Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill compiled a half-century opening stand, only for a much-improved stint led by the impressive Kyle Jamieson to leave the score at 69 for two at lunch.
Rohit, who looked on the cusp of a dominant display when he walloped Colin de Grandhomme on the up and through the covers for the shot of the day, was first man down for 34 when he followed Jamieson’s outswinger and nicked to the diving Tim Southee at third slip.
Neil Wagner, preferred to spinner Ajaz Patel in an all-seam attack, took care of Gill with just his third ball as a defensive prod found the edge and carried through to BJ Watling.
The afternoon session was a tense affair, containing just 51 runs as well as the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara, who took 36 balls to get off the mark and managed eight before Trent Boult nipped one through his defences for an lbw.
Kohli was also forced to go slow, with Jamieson picking up where he left off as he allowed just 14 runs from 12 overs of nagging – and occasionally nasty – seam bowling. By the time tea arrived, a few minutes early due to bad light, the India captain had 35 from 94 deliveries.
He had a scare on 17, correctly judged not out after an appeal for caught behind but only after a confusing process that appeared to see the DRS timer run out on Kane Williamson only for the umpires to call for a review.
It was not clear why Richard Illingworth had initiated the referral, having offered a ‘soft signal’ in the bowler’s favour, but an animated Kohli was backed up by the technology.
Ajinkya Rahane was his supporting act, on 13 not out, with control of the game still up for grabs.