Day five of the World Test Championship final. Here's hoping the weather cooperates and allows Virat Kohli's India and Kane Williamson's New Zealand to get down to business. We have a maximum of 196 overs left in the game, here are ESPNcricinfo's live updates - please refresh your page for the latest.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli see India through to stumps through testing 15 minutes in the end. Tim Southee hit Kohli in the head with a peach of a bouncer, and Kyle Jamieson drew an inside edge with no leg gully in place. In all, India end the day at 64 for 2, effectively 32 for 2. We still have 98 overs to try to find an outright winner. India will probably be looking at safety first. Or just batting normally. See you tomorrow.
The Southee inswinger again
As he did with Shubman Gill, Tim Southee has set Rohit Sharma up with outswingers before the inswinger. This time it is not the wobble seam but one with the shiny side flipped. Rohit leaves it alone, and it come back to hit him just outside off. The umpire gives him, and he walks off. This will give New Zealand renewed hope of pushing for a win. In walks Virat Kohli with 15 minutes to go. No nightwatchman here. India 51 for 2, leading by 19.
Final drinks break
We are into the last hour of the penultimate day of this WTC final. The scores are level, and India have lost one second-innings wicket, that of Shubman Gill, whose flick, trying to hit through midwicket instead of mid-on, has come in for criticism. Shiva Jayaraman, though, has the other side of the story too
The flick has been the most productive shot in Shubman Gill's short Test career. Before this Test, Gill had attempted the shot 77 times in Test cricket, had played with good control (87% of the times) and hadn't been dismissed even once. That stroke had fetched him 80 runs before this match. Going into this Test, he had not been in control of the flick only on ten occasions.
However, the extra swing available in English conditions and the skilful New Zealand pace attack meant that there was an extra element of risk in playing it here. And it showed in how Gill was beaten thrice out of the 12 times he attempted that shot in this match, before falling to the shot ultimately, for the first time in his short career.
It has taken India 14 overs and loss of one wicket but they have knocked off the deficit. They are now 32 for 1. We have about 115 overs of play left. Won't it be glorious if India are bowled out in 60, leaving New Zealand 170-180 to chase in 55 overs?
The Southee inswinger
Tim Southee has been in the form of his life leading into this Test, which is why the start on day 2 was uncharacteristic. In the second innings, though, he has found the outswinger, which also means he has used the change-up sparingly. In his sixth over, probably his last for a while, he traps Shubman Gill bang in front. A drop in concentration? Played right across the line to this one, trying to drive it through midwicket.
Southee's release, though, is a masterpiece: wobbling the seam at the last moment. Genius. India 24 for 1 in 10.4 overs. Still trailing by 8 runs.
Half an hour done
A first little milestone for India openers, who have played out the first seven overs from New Zealand. Tim Southee and Tent Boult have made a much better start than they did in the first innings, but Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill have been equal to the task. They have covered the inswinger from Southee well, and left the outswinger from Boult alone.
India 11 for 0 in seven overs. Still trailing by 21.
All about depth
Here's the contribution of the last five wickets in the last three India-New Zealand Tests
It's not like India don't have the depth. Their lower order has won them Tests with the bat in India, in Sri Lanka, in the West Indies and even in Australia. It is in swinging and seaming conditions, which are found in New Zealand and England, that India get trumped by the opposition's bottom five. And New Zealand have an attack that doesn't tire in these conditions; they have five men suited to these conditions. India had three. It is only down to the genius of R Ashwin that he took two wickets.
NZ lead by 32
Sixer Southee has taken New Zealand into a lead of 32. His two sixes today have taken him to 75, past Ricky Ponting on that list of most Test sixes. Only 14 men ahead of him. MS Dhoni is next in his sights. He scored 30 off 46, and we are now into the tea break. It has taken India 133 false responses to get New Zealand out, 25 more than what New Zealand needed. About two hours and 20 minutes of play left in the day.
Going into overtime
It should have been tea by now, but we are going into overtime this session because New Zealand are nine down. R Ashwin, never used in this match when a left-hand batter has not been at the wicket, took out Neil Wagner minutes before the break to leave New Zealand nine down. Ashwin now has 50 Test wickets against New Zealand in just seven Test matches. He is the joint-fastest to that mark, alongside Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.
New Zealand are now 236 for 9, leading by 19.
Forty-nine of the best
Kane Williamson will not be happy that he has played a loose shot to get out for 49 when he had a slightly tiring, practically three-man attack going by the bowling changes today, to milk. And you know a 60-70 run lead in these conditions can prove huge. He punches at a wide delivery, a rare loose shot, and edges it to second slip.
Having said that, this has been a defensive masterclass. Off his own bat, Williamson has made sure that if India have to win this Test, there is a lot of work to do for them. Had they got rid of Williamson early and got a bit of a lead, they would have given themselves a chance. New Zealand 221 for 8 in 94 overs. Lead by 4. Williamson gone for 49 off 177 balls.
New Zealand take the lead
With a square-cut off a slightly tiring Mohammed Shami, Kane Williamson takes New Zealand into lead at the end of the 93rd over. They still have three wickets in hand. This has been a masterful innings from Williamson, especially in the way he has raised his striking rate without taking too many risks. India are practically a three-man attack with spinners not effective on this pitch after so much rain. He is on 49, and will not want to throw it away so easily. New Zealand 220 for 7 after 93 overs. Lead by three runs.
A fourth for Shami
One ball after hitting the first six of the match, Kyle Jamieon has top-edged a hook of Mohammed Shami to be caught at fine leg. This, however, has been a crucial innings: 21 off 16 in an innings that was struggling to hit two an over and in a partnership of 30 off 39 with Kane Williamson. Shami now has four wickets after a lot of debate on his last tour: was he unlucky or was he too short?
New Zealand 192 for 7 after 87 overs. Still trailing by 25.
Luck, method, whatever
After 85 overs, with New Zealand 179 for 6, India had produced 108 false responses from New Zealand batters. That's how many false responses it took New Zealand to bowl India out. There is not one explanation for it, but it is perhaps a mix of luck and lengths. India haven't had as much luck as New Zealand, and also New Zealand did bowl generally fuller lengths than India have, which means a mistake can get you a wicket sooner but also a few extra runs conceded.
It is interesting because New Zealand have been the most economical bowling unit of this WTC cycle. And not long ago, India fast bowlers were known for not being able to keep up control. This unit, though, has enough fitness and mastery of their craft to be able to bowl dry for long spells. Bangalore 2017 against Australia was one great example, but overall too bowling dry has been India's go-to method for wickets of late.
Fun and games
New Zealand have made their intent clear ever since the new ball is taken. Batters other than Kane Williamson are going after anything remotely in their zone. They don't give themselves too much of a shout trying to survive against India's quicks, who are not giving anything to hit without risk. Also the new ball takes half a dozen overs or a little more before it starts misbehaving really. Colin de Grandhomme has failed, trapped lbw by Mohammed Shami, but Kyle Jamieson has chanced his arm successfully to reach 13 off 10. New Zealand 175 for 6 in 84 overs. Still trailing by 42.
Time for new ball
So that little spell ends with 17 runs in seven overs. Both teams will take it, I suspect. New Zealand got those runs without much risk, India got a break for their fast bowlers without paying too much for it. Now starts a new chapter. New Zealand 152 for 5 in 80 overs. Still trail by 65.
Why is Jadeja bowling?
Why, you might ask, is Ravindra Jadeja bowling with Jasprit Bumrah just after lunch when the conditions have been so good for fast bowling? Well the three fast bowlers bowled through the first session. The new ball is around. Two of them need a break before they take the new ball. India have gone for the spinner who takes the ball away from right-hand batters. And they have four boundary riders for Colin de Grandhomme. They just can't afford cheap runs here.
It is a bit of a window for New Zealand to get some runs, but if you get too keen, you can get out to the other bowlers too. New Zealand 147 for 5 in 75 overs. Still trail by 70.
That's what we said in the morning. If 146 for 3 could become 217 all out, there's no telling what 101 for 2 could become against this Indian attack. They just don't bowl hittable balls. Except for one half-volley on the pads from Jasprit Bumrah, almost every attacking shot carried some risk. And when they got the length just right, they got the wickets. Three of them for just 34 runs in 23 overs. New Zealand still trail by 82 runs. A mark of how difficult it is out there is how Williamson has scored just seven runs in 75 balls. He is not a slow scorer. He just respects good bowling. That tells you all about the bowling.
In the overall picture, an India win is still less likely than the other two results, but they have made it clear that you can't take your eye off this game.
The perfect ball
You keep bowling good balls, keep denying batsmen runs on this pitch, and you will get your wickets. New Zealand did that on the third day as they stopped searching and shut down the runs. India now back themselves to do the same for long enough periods without their fast bowlers losing intensity. The "unlucky" Mohammed Shami then bowls the ball that hits the top of off after pitching middle. Too good for BJ Watling. New Zealand 135 for 5 in 70.2 overs. Watling gone for 1 off 3.
c Sharma b Sharma
India continue the pressure with accurate, intense bowling. Just the 33 runs in 20.2 overs in the morning session, and Henry Nicholls pushes at an Ishant Sharma delivery that is a touch wide, and moves further away. Rohit Sharma takes the catch at second slip, and India are having the kind of session New Zealand had on the third morning to drag India back. New Zealand 134 for 4 in 69.3 overs. Nicholls gone for 7 off 23 balls.
Ross Taylor finally has a loose drive as India refuse to move from their disciplined lines and lengths. He is unable to keep it down, and Shubman Gill - serving both as a mid-off and extra cover - dives to his right to take a superb catch. New Zealand 117 for 3 in 63.1 overs. Taylor gone for 11 off 37 balls.
Tight and tense
One hour done, New Zealand have scored just 16 runs. Batting has been tough. India have not given them anything to hit. Just the two boundaries. One off the rare half-volley, the other a glove down the leg side. Just the 12 overs bowled in that hour. New Zealand 117 for 2 in 61 overs, still trailing by 100.
Ross Taylor. LBW candidate. Check again, maybe?
This is from Shiva Jayaraman, who is on top of these thigs
Ross Taylor has gathered reputation over the years as a batter who can get out lbw to fast bowlers because he tends to get his front foot across, and because of that India bowlers have bowled straighter to him targeting his pads. However, that perceived weakness doesn't come through in Taylor's recent record in Tests. In the last three years, he has been dismissed lbw only five times in 36 innings. Among 33 top-order batsmen to have batted 30 or more times in the last three years, Taylor's 13.9% (of innings that end with lbw dismissals) ranks only 21st. . Joe Root and Virat Kohli find themselves among the top five in this list, which is led by Roston Chase (11 lbw dismissals in 36 innings). Even in all international cricket in England in the last five years, Taylor has been dismissed lbw only twice in 17 innings.
New Zealand 112 for 2 in 58 overs.
India remain tight
Ishant Sharma began the morning with two misdirected balls down the leg side and got away with it. Those remain the only loose balls in the first half hour, during which New Zealand have scored only five runs. Kane Williamson's first run of the morning came right at the turn of the half hour.
India's chances of winning this are not bright barring a collapse this morning. The next-best thing for them is to dry up the runs so that New Zealand run out of time to force a result. India aren't bowling this way or that. Neither too attacking not defensive. They are just bowling with the discipline they usually do. New Zealand will have to bat slightly adventurously if they are to force the issue, but they are still 111 behind so it is too early for that.
New Zealand 106 for 2 in 55 overs.
Starting in 20 minutes
The rain has stopped, the inspection has been done, and we are starting at 11.30am. WE have lost an hour but half of it can be made up at the end of the day. Provided the light remains good till 7pm, we should get 91 overs in.
How much more rain can we survive?
Right, this last band of frustrating rain has caught us on its way out. In fact it is not raining in some parts of Southampton. Remember we can add an extra half hour to the end of the day to make up for any overs lost today. So we only start losing overs after 11am. In theory, if we can somehow start at 11am, we can get seven hours of cricket. Six hours regulation, half an hour lost to rain and half an hour for slow over-rate. Post 11am, we start to lose overs, which looks likely right now.
But not sure if it will be on time
I might have tempted fate there. It is drizzling, and the hover cover is on. Not sure if it will delay the start, but just so you know.
There will be cricket
There has been some really annoying hot takes about this WTC final because it has been raining and we might end up with a draw. I am not going to be shrill and will only address only the reasonable criticisms and that too not directly. What the ICC has tried to do is preserve the essence of Test cricket as it has been for nearly 40 years now, which is five days' worth of cricket, but it has added a reserve day to make up for weather. You can't really expect them to play a timeless Test because it takes away time as a factor in the way the teams approach it.
Nor did the ICC know that Covid-19 would free up the schedules enough for people to now ask for a timeless Test. In normal circumstances, India would be finishing this tour and hurrying off to Sri Lanka for the limited-overs series. It owes it to member boards who owe it to broadcasters to make available the biggest stars. So this timeless Test thing is not sustainable nor true to Tests as we know it today.
A best-of-three series is a good idea, but, again, is it sustainable? You won't always have teams free for a series whose broadcast money will go to ICC. And I am hoping against it, but WTC finals will not continue to be this full of interest.
What the ICC could have perhaps done was, and this is reasonable, is to keep adding a reserve day if we haven't had five days' worth of cricket and haven't reached a result. So the basic idea is play until one of the two happens: an outright result or five days' worth of cricket.
That said, we still have a maximum of 196 overs left in this Test. The forecast is good. And looking at how difficult the pitch is, it is silly to rule out a result. You don't always need 40 wickets for a result. India went from 146 for 3 to 216 all out. So 101 for 2 is not quite a dominant position for New Zealand. India have a way back in this. And if New Zealand are to force a result, we could even see it in 18 more wickets.
So with positive thoughts in mind, I welcome you to the Live Report of the fifth day of the WTC final. Half an hour to go to the start. If there is a delay, I promise you you will hear it first.