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Southee double gives Kiwis hope in final

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New Zealand’s Tim Southee plays a shot on the fifth day of the ICC World Test Championship Final against India on Tuesday. AFP

Southee double gives Kiwis hope in final

Tim Southee removed both India openers late on Tuesday to give New Zealand hope of an unlikely victory in the World Test Championship final as the showpiece match headed into the reserve sixth day.

India will look to Cheteshwar Pujara (12 not out) and captain Virat Kohli (eight not out) after finishing the fifth day at Southampton on 64-2 in their second innings – a lead of 32 runs.

Southee had Shubman Gill lbw for eight and Rohit Sharma leg before padding up for 30.

The veteran paceman also struck star batsman Kohli flush on the helmet before reaching stumps with figures of 2-17 in nine overs.

And with a maximum 98 overs remaining, a positive outcome is still possible despite both opening days on June 18 and the fourth on June 21 being washed out without a ball being bowled.

A draw, however, remains the likeliest outcome after two years of qualifying matches to determine Test cricket’s first official world champions, and in that case India and New Zealand will share the $2.4 million prize money.

“You always probably want more than what you got, but it was nice to get those two [wickets] tonight, but it’s shaping up for an intriguing day tomorrow,” Southee told reporters.

“It’s exciting to end up on the last day of a Test match with three results still possible,” added the 32-year-old. “With the weather that’s been around, it’s nice to have that extra day up our sleeve.”

Earlier, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made 49 out of a total of 249 in reply to India’s first-innings 217.

Williamson is one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation but such was the control exerted by India’s fast bowlers in a match where pacemen on both sides have dominated in helpful conditions, he made just seven from 77 balls faced before lunch on Tuesday.

Shami stars for India

Mohammed Shami led the way with 4-76 in 26 overs after yet more rain delayed start by an hour on June 22.

“I wanted to keep it tight today,” said Shami, speaking in Hindi after the close.

Looking ahead to June 23, he added: “I can’t say how much we can dismiss them for in the fourth innings.

“We will need runs on the board and back-up.”

By activating the reserve day, officials created the first six-day Test since the 2005 Super Series between Australia and the Rest of the World.

New Zealand had resumed on 101-2.

Williamson and Ross Taylor, their two most experienced batsmen, added a mere 16 runs in the first 13 overs before Shami had Taylor caught for 11 at short extra-cover on June 22.

Ishant Sharma (3-48) followed up by having Henry Nicholls well-taken by Rohit at second slip.

New Zealand’s 134-4 was transformed into 135-5 as Shami clean bowled BJ Watling with a superb delivery that hit the top of middle and off stumps.

Williamson’s 177-ball innings ended when he steered Ishant to second-slip Kohli.

Southee, whose breezy 30 included two fours and a six before he was last man out, paid tribute to Williamson’s painstaking innings by saying: “The Indian bowling asked a lot of tough questions and put us under a lot of pressure, and he was able to hang tight and dig deep and just sort of battle his way through.”

A lively crowd, made up mainly of India supporters added to the occasion, but two spectators were ejected on June 22 by security staff for abusing New Zealand players.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said Southee. “The game is always played in a good spirit on the field.”

A spokesperson for the International Cricket Council said: “We received reports of abuse directed at the New Zealand players.

“Our security team were able to identify the culprits and they were ejected from the ground. We will not tolerate any sort of abusive behaviour in cricket.”

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