After all the drama in the build-up to the final of the ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand, with even the rain playing its role, eventually, it was the Blackcaps who emerged as the first-ever Test Champions. While the Kiwis had come close to winning the ODI World Cup 2019 and had done everything right, a mere arbitrary boundary count rule snatched that joy away from them.
But on June 23 2021, there was absolutely no doubt that New Zealand had been the better team in the match as they stitched a convincing 8-wicket win over Virat Kohli-led India, continuing their superior record over the Men in Blue especially in ICC tournaments. This was New Zealand’s second ICC trophy and their first-ever after their ICC knockout Trophy victory which came in 2000. Coincidentally, they defeated India in the finals of both these events to emerge champions.
The result means that captain Virat Kohli’s wait for an elusive ICC trophy continues but it would be fair to say that they were outperformed by a side known to punch above its weight. On the other hand, Kane Williamson finally lifted the Test mace and after coming agonisingly close to it previously, it was fitting that he along with another long servant of New Zealand, Ross Taylor, were there at the end to secure victory.
Here is our rating of Kiwi players based on their performance at the ICC World Test Championship final. Humility is the word that comes close to defining their brand of cricket and it was no different throughout whatever action happened for the summit clash at Southampton.
Tom Latham- 5/10
The Kiwi opener made a solid 30 from 104 balls in the first, spending 158 minutes on the wicket and ensuring that their middle order is not exposed to the swinging, seaming new ball. However, he couldn’t provide the same start in the second innings where he fell prey to a left-hander’s nightmare Ravichandran Ashwin. However, given that a good start to the innings was absolutely essential especially in overcast conditions after India had made 217, Latham gets a 5 on 10.
Devon Conway- 6.5/10
What a start to the Test career this has been for Devon Conway. After announcing himself at the big stage with a double hundred at Lord’s against England, he top-scored in the New Zealand first innings in the summit clash against India, scoring a well-deserved half-century. His 54 formed laid the foundation of the Kiwi total in the first innings and although he couldn’t quite remain unbeaten in the second innings and departed for 19 runs, by then New Zealand were already sensing a win.
Kane Williamson- 8/10
Captain Kane Williamson did not have the best of records in England with the bat. However, in the crucial final, Williamson’s innings made the difference. Not only did he battle it out for close to five hours for his 49 in the first innings when the going was tough, but he also weathered the storm in the second innings and got those boundaries to close down the target. Eventually, Williamson remained unbeaten on 52 and took the Kiwis to a famous win. Even with his leadership skills, he was spot on with his decision making and continued to make inspiring changes which yielded results on the field. In a battle of ICE Williamson vs FIRE Kohli, it was ICE who prevailed at Southampton.
Ross Taylor- 5/10
Another Kiwi stalwart Ross Taylor was tempted into a drive by Mohammed Shami in the first innings. But he did not make the same mistake in the second, where he remained unbeaten till the end also hitting the winning runs to become the Test Champions. Taylor came in when Ashwin had removed two wickets in quick succession, but after he played a few of his strokes, there was no looking back as the Kiwis eased into their chase of 139. But given that more was expected from a player of his stature in the first innings, he gets a five.
Henry Nicholls- 4/10
Henry Nicholls was outdone by a brilliant delivery from Ishant Sharma in the first innings but didn't get to bat in the second as they had already clinched the win. From whatever little we saw of Nicholls, he scored just 7 runs including a boundary but can take a lot of confidence from this collective effort of the team. He gets a 4.
BJ Watling- 5/10
What a fairytale end of a career for BJ Watling who had already announced that this final would be his last match. Although he couldn’t do much with the bat, scoring just 1 before being cleaned up by a beauty of a delivery from Shami, he was excellent behind the stumps. In his last match too, Watling yet again showed his commitment to the game and the team and despite dislocating his finger continued to keep wickets.
Colin de Grandhomme- 4/10
The Kiwis had backed their strength for the all-important final and hence went ahead with an all-pace attack even picking Colin De Grandhomme ahead of Mitchell Santner. However, he didn’t make much of a difference with the ball. While he bowled his 12 overs in the first innings, he never looked like threatening an Indian batter but provided a much-needed break to their pace attack. In the second innings, he wasn’t even needed as India were bowled out for 170. With the bat, Grandhomme made 13 and could have definitely extended the lead there had he stayed around and batted longer.
Kyle Jamieson- 9/10
The Player of the Match for the ICC World Test Championship final was Kyle Jamieson and deservingly so. Jamieson was outstanding with his line and length and set the tone of the match with his fifer in the first innings which included wickets of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant. If that wasn’t enough, he played a quick cameo of 21 from 16 to add salt to India’s wounds and returned to remove Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the second innings. The tall pacer made the most decisive impact on the match with both bat and ball. But we don’t want him to get complacent after a superb start to his Test career so a 9 for Jamieson.
Tim Southee- 8/10
Tim Southee again made a significant contribution both with the ball as well as the bat. While he claimed just one wicket in the first innings, he brought his “three-quarter seam” ball into play in the second and was the pick of the Kiwi bowlers in the second, scalping 4 wickets for 48 runs. However, it is his 30 from 46 balls with the bat that fetches him extra points as Southee and Jamieson alone contributed 51 runs in sharp contrast to India’s tail which hardly got anything. Given that he showed the temperament to score those runs and then did what he does best with the red cherry, Southee receives an 8.
Neil Wagner- 6/10
What a solid pace attack the New Zealanders have. While Southee and Boult are more about swing and seam, Wagner is the hit the deck kind of bowler exerting the extra bounce which might force the batter to make a mistake Although the wicket wasn’t particularly one that he would enjoy, he claimed three wickets in the match claiming Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings while taking the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja in the second.
Trent Boult- 7/10
Even though this wasn’t the best of Trent Boult, he made an impact with his swing bowling. While he returned with figures of 2 for 47 in the first innings, he even scalped three in the second to end with 5 wickets in the match. While he got the Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings, he removed Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant in the second which was like the final nail in the coffin of Indian innings after Jamieson had dismissed Kohli and Pujara on the final day morning.