Dylan Cleaver with three thoughts from day three of the World Test Championship final between the Black Caps and India.
How slow is too slow?
Before we get more than a sentence into this wee segment, it should be noted that Tom Latham and Devon Conway did exactly what was asked on them at the top of the order and their battle, with the odds stacked heavily against them, was a long way north of admirable.
For those of us old enough to remember, it was like being transported back to the early '80s. If you squinted at the screen for long enough, you might have been able to make out fellow southpaws John Wright and Bruce Edgar.
As important as the partnership of 70 was, it is also possible that it has tilted the match odds more towards draw. With the scheduled fourth day's play looking like it will be severely affected by rain – at the time of writing the forecast had the chance of precipitation at between 80 and 90 per cent during the hours of play – it is difficult to chart a route to victory on the fifth and sixth days barring an epic collapse or two.
How tough was it to bat? It took Latham and Conway 26.3 overs to bring up their 50-run partnership. The Indian pair of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, by contrast, took 17.1 overs and even that felt like tough going.
To emphasise the point, this was the right approach. It is difficult to overstate how challenging it was. Techniques weren't so much probed as put on a rack and tortured. It wasn't even a case of protecting the middle order for as long as possible because New Zealand demonstrated how you could take wickets in clumps, even with the old ball, as it was selling your wicket dearly once you were in.
This was test-match batting in its grittiest form, but the question remains: will we get enough play over the next three days to see it rewarded?
Kyle Jamieson is halfway through his eighth test. That alone should give you pause for thought because he already feels like a fixture in this attack; every much as critical to the team's charge to the WTC final as the father (Tim Southee), the son (Trent Boult) and the Holy Most (Neil Wagner).
He has 44 test wickets. At this rate he will take his 50th test wicket in his ninth test. If he achieves that feat then only seven players in the history of test cricket will have done it quicker. Digest that for a second and then contemplate this: he could faff around and still break the brilliant Shane Bond's record as long as he takes six more scalps before the end of his 11th test.
What makes this achievement hard to comprehend is that he is doing it during a time when New Zealand's pace-bowling stocks have never been deeper. This is not Sir Richard Hadlee from the Members' End and the Ilford Seconds at the other – the three aforementioneds have 827 wickets between them.
Jamieson (5-31) was brilliant, zeroing in on a nagging fourth stump line with the odd booming inswinger thrown in. There's a long way to go, but his removal of Virat Kohli (44) with a nip-backer could end up being the key moment of the match.
Another indication of his magical start: he is just three wickets shy of Colin de Grandhomme, who is playing his 26th test, and has five five-wicket bags, more than such luminaries as Ewen Chatfield, Bruce Taylor, John Bracewell and Dion Nash.
In what is his last test, BJ Watling produced a near immaculate innings behind the stumps. Normally a 92-over stint in which he featured in just two dismissals wouldn't warrant such lofty recognition as a treasured Takeaway but this is way more than a valedictory freebie.
Watling's quiet excellence was a tone-setter, especially when New Zealand were a bit nervy and ragged on the first morning that play was available.
We had a graphic illustration as to how difficult keeping can be in England during the two-match test series that preceded this final. If anything, the ball was swerving more expansively here but somehow Watling managed a faultless innings, taking the two chances offered him, including a great snaffle down the leg side to dismiss Ravindra Jadeja and complete the innings, while conceding no byes.
In the space of two balls during a wild Southee over, Watling covered three metres down leg side to take a delivery one-handed, then went with the other hand in front of second slip when Southee over-corrected.
In these conditions, every run saved or scored is like gold dust. It was an extraordinary display.