WTC final: NZ remove Pujara; Kohli leads fightback
New Zealand made a comeback in the second session on Day 2 of the ongoing World Test Championship final against India. The likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli started cautiously after the Kiwis got rid of the openers toward the end of the opening session. Trent Boult struck for New Zealand as he removed Pujara. However, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane drove India past 100.
India had put up 69 runs for the loss of two wickets at the stroke of lunch. Thereafter, Pujara and Kohli showed resistance against the Kiwi bowlers. The duo was defensive more often than not, leaving several balls outside the off stump. India scored mere 12 runs in the first 10 after the lunch break (81/2).
Trent Boult struck just when Pujara and Kohli were starting to stitch a partnership. Boult removed Pujara in the 41st over by trapping him in front. Pujara took as many as 54 deliveries to score eight runs in the innings. Notably, he scored his first run after 35 balls. He smashed two fours, and was deprived of singles during his knock.
Pujara has been hit on the helmet seven times since the start of 2018, two more than any other batsman (Ajinkya Rahane, Rory Burns and Marnus Labuschagne - five times each). As per Opta, Pujara has been struck three of these seven times in Southampton.
The battle between Indian skipper Kohli and NZ seamers grabbed attention. Kohli didn't lose his focus despite the dismissal of Pujara. He rather showcased decisive footwork throughout, which helped him cover the swing. Kohli was particularly impressive against his Royal Challengers Bangalore team-mate Kyle Jamieson, who thwarted him on Team India's previous tour of New Zealand.
The likes of Kohli and Rahane accelerated after Pujara departed. They played well in tandem, having punished the lose deliveries. The duo smartly worked the balls in the gaps, forcing the Kiwis to change their tactics. India finished on 120/3 at tea.