The Ultimate Test Black Caps Become First Official World Test Champions

It all comes down to this. An anticipated test, ten years in the making. An idea originally formed by Wisden, taken on by the ICC and put into action in 2019. Throughout this three- year journey we’ve seen epic battles, agonising defeats and individuals rise to the occasion. The top nine test playing nations playing 71 tests and amongst all the adrenaline, heartache, battles, and defeats, the two teams surviving the Ultimate Test of Character, and emerging from the battlefield were New Zealand and India. Whom on the 18th of June, emerged onto the Ageas Bowl, preparing for battle, forming The Ultimate Test.

All the anticipation, all the build-up for this pinnacle point in test cricket. Who will become the inaugural World Test Championship winners and the best test playing nation in the world? Then the English weather comes into play washing out the first day.

The captains arrive at the toss early on the second day, seeing dark clouds overhead, threatening play. The sense of Deja-Vu in the air. A green topped pitch plus cloudy overhead conditions equals heaps of swing and seam. As the coin landed in Kane Williamsons way there was no question what way he would stray. NZ won the toss and elected to bowl. New Zealand started poorly; some may say they were searching for wickets. India took advantage early as openers Sharma and Gill piled on the runs with a sixty-run stand, on this difficult wicket with seam and swing a likely occurrence. Boult and Southee couldn’t hit the right areas, and with the added pressure of being expected to deliver and take wickets, New Zealand crumbled, and India accelerated. Rohit and Gill eventually fell as too Pujara, but Kohli has that look in his eye as the imperious Kohli and Rahane were not out at stumps. India far ahead with the score at 3/146 with their captain and vice-captain ever present at the crease.

The nation of New Zealand was calling for a hero, someone to step up on Day 3, and didn’t they get there wish. Kyle Jamieson led the New Zealand counter-attack. Knocking down Kohli without adding a run to his overnight tally. Kohli’s bad form continued as he still hasn’t scored an international hundred in any form for 18 months. Kyle Jamieson swept India off their feet taking 5/31 of 22 overs. India tumbled for 217, New Zealand delivering the counterattack their nation needed. Conway and Latham batted, and how they batted, Conway hitting yet another fifty, finding test cricket too easy. Both openers threw their wickets away, Conway chipping a leg-side ball to mid-wicket and a mistimed lofted drive by Latham to find Kohli at short-cover, to wrestle back some momentum for India at the end of the day. New Zealand’s score at stumps 2/101 as the neck and neck battle continues. New Zealand with their noses ahead.

With this test match set up so perfectly, the English weather made sure it didn’t go unnoticed washing out the whole of day 4.

Mohammed Shami finds his length on the fifth day and brings this tug-of-war contest back to level terms. Shami washed New Zealand batters off their feet with a bowling masterclass, taking 4/76. The momentum was with India the whole day until Southee late in the day wrestled the match back level, taking Sharma and Gills wickets leaving the stumps score at 2/64. No team was being cracked open, no weaknesses exposed, this arm wrestle between the two best test playing nations is absolutely at a dead even. Momentum swinging back and forth, all results possible on this unprecedented sixth day.

Kyle Jamieson started the charge on the sixth day knocking down two giants with one stone. Kohli and Pujara. Rishabh Pant was his ever-present self, trying to smash India out of the hole which New Zealand had dug. Rahane and Pant were India’s only hope and both threw their wicket away as only cricketers could. Boult and Southee swept up the tail, knocking India down for 170. Setting New Zealand 139 runs to win. Conway and Latham started well with a 33-run stand. Latham charged Ashwin and it was all over for him before he began. Conway was dismissed by Ashwin again India creeping back with the score 2/44. Experience out on the pitch, fans waiting for them to deliver, and so they delivered. Williamson and Taylor knocked down the runs one by one. Williamson scoring fifty and Taylor 47no. Taylor whipping away the last ball of this final, for four, just as New Zealand have whipped India away.

Emerging from the final battlefield the last team surviving were the underdogs, Kane Williamson, and his men. New Zealand are the champions, the best in the business. Lifting that mace brought smiles to the wounded New Zealand fans after the suffering of the 2019 World Cup. By the barest of margins, by the barest of all margin’s forever echoing in their supporters’ heads. But this time it is New Zealand’s time to shine, New Zealand’s time to make a stand. They delivered the final punch at the final frontier. The final pinnacle, the last mountain to climb, the last team standing in their way. New Zealand emerged as victors, all conquerors, the world’s best, and the rest is history they all say. On then 23rd of June, New Zealand conquered, in The Ultimate Test.

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