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Cricket news - Relentless New Zealand do the basics right to reap rewards

Kyle Jamieson was exceptional on day three as he helped New Zealand edge ahead.

Kyle Jamieson was exceptional on day three as he helped New Zealand edge ahead.

From the moment Virat Kohli sprinted onto the Hampshire Bowl playing area at the start of play until he led his team off the field at the close, day three of the World Test Championship final was Test cricket at its very best. Two champion teams went at each other and didn't stop, the bowlers tirelessly probing in helpful conditions right up until the last over, the batsmen under the cosh and on the defensive. If the weather hasn't played ball so far in this match, at least the on-field performance has lived up to the occasion. This was cricket of the very highest quality.

At the end of it all, despite the late wicket of Devon Conway, New Zealand just about shaded things. In the bowling of Kyle Jamieson and the batting of their top order, the Blackcaps showed a relentlessness that is the hallmark of their game. Discipline, control and determination may not be sexy attributes but these are the foundations of the very best Test match teams. New Zealand do not have rapid bowlers or dashing batsmen but what they do have are highly skilled players who consistently do the basics well. This was a day where their relentlessness told.

The bowlers started things off. Jamieson, who now has five five-wicket hauls in just eight Tests, is not quick - he operates in the early 80mph zone - but his accuracy is what coaches would call a super strength. He rarely misses his length and only occasionally errs in line. He can swing the ball and generates steep bounce from his height but the reason for his success on a chilly Sunday at the Hampshire Bowl was his accuracy. It kept India's batsmen under pressure throughout the first hour of the morning session when Jamieson bowled an eight-over spell filled with more dot balls than in the morse code.

He only conceded his first run off the 16th delivery he bowled and the next run, a no-ball, came 20 deliveries after that. After picking up just three wickets on the second day, New Zealand needed to start well. Jamieson's opening burst certainly helped them do that. He removed Kohli without India's captain adding to his overnight score. It was a canny piece of bowling because the previous three deliveries had been wider and leaving the batsman while the wicket-taking delivery came back in, trapping Kohli LBW. The classic fast-bowler's set up and dismissal. New Zealand were up and running.

The dismissal of Rishabh Pant seven overs later was another victory for the relentless accuracy of Jamieson and, more generally, New Zealand's bowlers. Pant is a batsman who likes to take the game forward and after being kept quiet early in his innings, it became increasingly clear that he wanted to remove the shackles. Perhaps sensing that, Jamieson, who had been hit through midwicket a few balls previously, threw up a wide, full ball to see if Pant would take the bait. He did, and the edge nestled in Tom Latham's hands at second slip.

Pressure of the sort exerted by New Zealand's bowlers - and India's later in the day - usually tells in one way or another. Jamieson found good support from Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Tim Southee who all combined to suffocate India's batsmen. Each time there looked like a resurgence, a wicket fell to a smart piece of bowling or a batting mishap. Pant, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin all admonished themselves after their dismissals, perhaps realising they had been suckered in. Rahane paddle pulled a Wagner short ball straight to square leg while Ashwin fell in similar fashion to Pant, edging a wide, full ball. Both were mistakes, induced by New Zealand's pressure.

Despite Conway's loose shot right before the close, almost a carbon copy of the way he was dismissed by Stuart Broad at Edgbaston last week, New Zealand's batsmen continued where their bowlers had left off. Under leaden skies, with the floodlights on, facing a high-class seam attack, the first job was surviving the new ball.

To that end, Conway and Tom Latham displayed the old fashioned values of Test match opening batting. They left well and often, played late and avoided chasing deliveries away from their bodies. In difficult batting conditions, it was a masterclass in how to navigate a new ball spell by playing sensibly, without any frills. There were some alarms, particularly when Mohammed Shami came on first change and found some sharp bounce, but generally, Conway and Latham maintained their control. Adding 70 for the first wicket was no mean feat, particularly given how well India bowled. The run rate of two runs an over indicates just how hard work it was for the New Zealand openers.

The only real blemish for the Kiwis was their two dismissals, both of which came against the run of play. Like Conway, Latham was caught when trying to play an expansive, forcing shot which didn't need to be played. On a day that was characterised by their discipline and concentration, the wickets New Zealand lost were foolhardy, perhaps even reckless. They have also given India a sniff of getting right back into this game.

Kane Williamson might have something to say about that. He remains unbeaten, having batted calmly in the final 90 minutes of the day to prevent any further damage before bad light stopped play. He batted as his team had played, with composure, discipline and no little skill. It was a day when New Zealand's relentlessness shone through, when the simple premise of doing the basics well time and time again brought rewards. It is a principle that sustains all the best Test teams. And in New Zealand and India, we have two of the very best on show.