New Zealand beat India in gripping final to claim WTC title

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Southampton

New Zealand enjoyed the greatest triumph in their cricket history as they beat India by eight wickets in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton on Wednesday.

Two years on from their agonising Super Over loss to England in the 50-over World Cup final at Lord’s, the Blackcaps claimed their first major global title.

Set a modest target of 139 in 53 overs, New Zealand finished on 140-2 with plenty of time to spare in a match extended into a reserve sixth day following two days lost to rain.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin reduced New Zealand to 44-2 by removing openers Tom Latham and Devon Conway to the delight of India fans.

But New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, the team’s most-experienced batsmen, settled any lingering nerves in an unbroken stand of 96.

Williamson, who won plaudits for the sporting way he dealt with defeat in the 2019 World Cup final, was 52 not out following his first-innings 49, with Taylor — who hit the winning boundary — unbeaten on 47.

India’s last hope of turning the tide evaporated when, with New Zealand 55 runs shy of victory at 84-2, Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a regulation slip catch off the luckless Jasprit Bumrah to reprieve Taylor on 26.

Bumrah dropped Williamson shortly before one of the most outstanding batsmen of his era completed an 86-ball fifty, including eight fours.

Taylor ended the match in the 46th over when he whipped Mohammed Shami off his pads for four.

In a match in which bowlers held sway it was New Zealand’s all-pace attack that did most damage Wednesday by dismissing India for just 170 in their second innings despite blue skies providing the best batting conditions of the game.

Tim Southee took wickets at both ends of the innings in a return of 4-48 in 19 overs, with longtime new-ball partner Trent Boult striking twice in an over during his 3-39.—AP

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