Pant soldiers on as India defy New Zealand to reach 130/5 at lunch

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Southampton, Jun 23 (PTI) Rishabh Pant adopted a cavalier approach while the big batting stars bungled as India reached 130 for five at lunch on the 'sixth' day of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand here on Wednesday.

India currently lead by 98 runs with maximum of 73 overs left in a match where weather robbed two full days of cricket. India would like to bat at least one hour in the post lunch session which might make it difficult for New Zealand to chase a target of around 150 in three hours.

Pant's 'devil may care' attitude would have certainly left the Indian dressing room with hearts in their mouth as he went undefeated at the break with 28 off 48 balls to his name. Ravindra Jadeja with 12 off 20 balls is giving him company.

The way he charged and missed a lot of Neil Wagner's deliveries wasn't the prettiest sight on the cricket field but probably a statement of intent which some of the star-studded batsmen didn't make on the final day.

India's approach as Mohammed Shami had pointed out was going to be 'safety first' and Virat Kohli (13, 29 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (15 off 80 balls) decided to defend dourly but their nemesis Kyle Jamieson (2/21 in 17 overs) kept coming at them relentlessly.

The extra bounce outside the off-stump had Indian skipper feeling for it and BJ Watling got the easiest of catches.

Pujara, whose abilities of grinding out bowlers has reached mythical proportions and once again he was never looking to score. The pressure was always there and Jamieson fired one in with the angle. Pujara wanted to remove his bat but it seemed the ball tailed him and Ross Taylor got a regulation catch.

At 72 for four with a lead of only 40, it was trouble for India but Ajinkya Rahane (15 off 40 balls) and Pant added 37 runs, largely due to the southpaw's attacking instincts.

Rahane then had a faint tickle down leg side off Trent Boult (1/37) but Pant didn't deviate from his plans as the very next ball he faced saw him swinging hard and missing. PTI KHS BS BS

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