After starting the reserve day on 64/2, India lost skipper Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara within the first hour of play as the score read 72/4. Although batting was relatively easier on a sunny day at Ageas Bowl, the overnight batsmen got out to avoidable deliveries.
The pressure was mounting on India, with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane having to shoulder the responsibility of handling the innings as well as a flimsy Rishabh Pant. Unfortunately for the Men in Blue, Rahane edged a rather innocuous delivery down the leg-side to depart for 15.
Nicholls pulls off a blinder of a catch to dismiss Pant
Having been in similar situations before, Pant teamed up with Ravindra Jadeja to take India past the 100-run lead. Rishabh Pant, who is known for his flamboyant stroke-play, tried to curb his natural instincts to a degree but eventually fell to it.
Charging down the track to Boult, the maverick batsman tried an ugly hoick over the leg-side but only managed to get a top-edge. It went well into the clear skies, with Nicholls running after it from the point region. With his back turned towards the center, Nicholls judged the catch brilliantly and hung on to it to give New Zealand the most important wicket at that stage.
— Cricsphere (@Cricsphere) June 23, 2021
The fall of Pant brought about India’s demise in the second innings, as they folded from 156-6 to 170 all-out. As a result, New Zealand need to chase 139 in 53 overs to lay their hands on the maiden ICC World Test Championship trophy.
The Kiwis got off to a steady start going into the tea unscathed. They now require another 120 runs with 45 overs still left for the day’s play.