It’s 12 months on since New Zealand defeated India in the thrilling final of the inaugural World Test Championship in Southampton, and we take a look back at what made the historic moment so special for the Black Caps.
While India finished the qualification period on top of the standings, New Zealand entered the decider full of confidence and with plenty to prove.
The Kiwis hadn’t suffered a Test loss since 2019 and had the added incentive of sending veteran wicketkeeper BJ Watling into retirement on a high note.
Watling had been a great servant of New Zealand cricket, with the then 35-year old having played a total of 75 Tests for his country since debuting way back in 2009.
The entire opening day of play was lost due to rain and the second day was a stop-start affair as bad light intervened late to ensure the honors were shared early.
It was on the third day that New Zealand started to gain the upper hand, with towering quick Kyle Jamieson picking up the key wicket of Virat Kohli and a total of five India scalps to put his stamp on the contest in superb style.
The New Zealand top-order fought hard in reply, with opener Devon Conway compiling a steady half-century and Tom Latham chiming in with a solid 30 as the Kiwis set about claiming a first innings lead.
England’s fickle weather once again intervened on the fourth day, leaving both sides frustrated as the prospect of play continuing on to a reserved sixth day became a distinct reality.
Kane Williamson’s 49 ensured New Zealand took a narrow 32-run lead into the first innings and India progressed along nicely enough to reach 64/2 at stumps on the fifth day as the match looked destined to finish in a draw.
But Jamieson and New Zealand had other ideas, with the Kiwi seamer removing Kohli and the usually reliable Cheteshwar Pujara early on the final day to give the Kiwis hope of an unlikely triumph.
Fellow quicks Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner got in on the act to help dismiss India for 170, leaving New Zealand a victory target of 139 to claim the inaugural title.
Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two early wickets to give India a sniff, but the experienced duo of Ross Taylor and Williamson combined to guide New Zealand home and set off jubilant scenes in their dressing room.
“BJ Watling sums up what this team means,” Southee said immediately after the famous victory.
“We wanted to send him off with a win at the start of the tour. He’s been a tremendous part of the side, he’s given this team everything he’s had, couldn’t be happier for him.”
“We started this journey two years ago. To be sitting here as Champions is special,” Southee added.
“There’s a lot of hard work that has gone into it. Consistency comes to mind: consistency through performances, consistency in selection.
“We do a lot for each other. It’s satisfying to achieve what we have.”
With the World Test Championship continuing to grow in prominence, New Zealand now face a stiff task to defend the title they won in Southampton as they have struggled so far in the new qualification period.
Williamson’s side have just two Test wins to their name in the current period and languish in eighth place overall on the latest World Test Championship standings.
Australia and South Africa hold the top two places on the standings, with India (third), Sri Lanka (fourth) and Pakistan (fifth) not far behind and still in contention to qualify for the final that is set to be held in June next year.