The first day was washed out but the World Test Championship final got underway on Saturday (June 19). New Zealand won the toss and without an element of doubt, Kane Williamson opted to field first on a grey cloudy day. In tough conditions, the Indian openers were able to weather the storm for the first hour. But, India lost Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara in the space of 26 runs and allowed New Zealand to get back on top.
However, since then, skipper Virat Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane have steadied the ship with an unbeaten 58-run stand for the fourth wicket. A start-stop day came to a complete halt when the light started to get dimmer and was followed by light drizzle.
The first day of play in this inaugural final of the WTC was packed with some notable stats. Here are a few of them:
Kohli breaks MS Dhoni’s record of most Tests as captain for India
The most successful Indian captain in terms of wins now has gone past his predecessor to lead his country in most matches. MS Dhoni had led India in 60 matches and had won 27 of those with a win percentage of 45. Kohli in his 60 matches, prior to the WTC final, has won 36 with a win percentage of 60. His win percentage is the third-best among captains who have led their side for 30+ matches. He would look to decorate that record by adding an ICC trophy, his first.
Gill and Rohit’s unique feat at Ageas Bowl
England is one of the toughest conditions to counter if you are an opener and the record in recent times does suggest that. In this WTC cycle, opening partnership in England has an average of 17.7, only in West Indies it's lower (17.5). Despite all the difficulties, the Indian openers were able to post a 50-run partnership. This was the first 50-run opening stand for an away team in Southampton in Tests. The previous best was between Abid Ali and Shaan Masood (49 in 2020).
Shubman Gill’s first dismissal to left-arm pace
Though he hasn't played a lot of Tests, Gill has dominated the left-arm pacers in this format. In the Australian tour against the might of Mitchell Starc, Gill emerged with flying colors. In 94 balls he faced, he had scored 91 runs at a strike rate of 96.8. Against the likes of Trent Boult as well, Gill looked comfortable. But, Neil Wagner seemed to be all over him in just three balls. His dismissal against Wagner was his first against left-arm pace.
Cheteshwar Pujara slow to start
India’s number three has always been under the pump in recent times because of his low strike rate. In this WTC cycle, Pujara has scored at a strike rate of 36.3. Among batsmen who have scored 500+ runs, only Dom Sibley has a lower strike rate. In tough conditions today, Pujara played 35 balls before getting off the mark. Only once has he played more balls than 36 to get off the mark. In 2018 against South Africa at Johannesburg, he played 52 balls before scoring his first run.