NZ strike early blows in WTC final v India
New Zealand's all-out pace attack have removed both India openers before lunch in overcast conditions in the World Test Championship final on Saturday.
After the first day's play was washed out due to rain, the inclement weather encouraged Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson to field first after winning the toss with five fast bowlers chosen in the playing XI.
India went to lunch at 2-69 with Cheteshwar Pujara yet to get off the mark and captain Virat Kohli not out on 6.
The opening pair of Rohit Sharma (34) and Shubman Gill (28) won the early battle against the swing of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, adding 62 runs before both fell in an eventful last half-hour before lunch.
Sharma looked to have settled down well and played two elegant backfoot cover-driven boundaries against Colin de Grandhomme, who surprisingly bowled ahead of Neil Wagner.
Kyle Jamiesen finally induced a Sharma outside edge as Southee took a low two-handed catch at third slip to give New Zealand a breakthrough.
Wagner lived up to his reputation of picking up wickets early as the left-arm swing bowler had Gill edging in his first over to give the Black Caps double delight in the first session.
Wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling will be playing in his last Test match after announcing his retirement.
"Really great occasion for him to play his last game, and I'm sure he'll enjoy it," Williamson said at the toss.
In contrast to New Zealand's all-out seam attack, India have gone with two specialist spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah the fast bowling options.
Kohli said he too would have bowled first, had he won the toss, but he was happy to bat.
"Big final," he said.
"(Put) runs on the board and it's always a bit of an advantage. The two spinners can bowl in any conditions and if there's a bit of dampness, they're really accurate and can make use of it as well."
If the outcome is a draw, the trophy will be shared.
India players wore black armbands in memory of the country's celebrated sprinter Milkha Singh, who died at age 91 late Friday night because of COVID-19 complications.
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