If New Zealand conjure up the ultimate cricketing tortoise-and-hare scenario against India in their World Cup semifinal, Kane Williamson should be awarded an honorary Ph.D in the study of pitches and overhead conditions.
Play will resume on tomorrow's reserve day (9.30pm NZT) after getting postponed due to rain.
After Williamson won the toss and chose to bat, the Black Caps' top order were straitjacketed by pace bowling which offered minimal width to free their arms in the opening 10-over powerplay. They limped to 27 for one.
Openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls took 17 balls to score the first run and 48 balls to score the first boundary as Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar zoomed in under overcast skies. If the players weren't adorned in cricketing pyjamas, the situation could have been mistaken for the first session of a test.
Guptill accentuated New Zealand's plight, fending Bumrah to Virat Kohli at second slip for one, his fifth single digit score of the tournament. The bright spot? He absorbed a failed Indian lbw review first ball. His exit left a scorecard as bleak as the weather enveloping the ground – 1-1 off 3.3 overs.
In strode the skipper.
Williamson surveyed the field, adjusted his pads, spun the bat and survived a Bumrah rocket by shouldering arms outside off stump.
Then he began his batting thesis, adjusting to the conditions and recalibrating a subconscious equation: What score would be competitive on a ground where New Zealand produced their highest total of the tournament – 291 for eight against the West Indies?
Williamson, first with Nicholls and then Ross Taylor, clawed back New Zealand's hopes in dire circumstances to eke out 211 for five.
Their resources were stretched like a tarpaulin over the tray of a ute. Singles were welcome, twos embraced and boundaries treasured. Then came mercy as rain fell, much like in New Zealand's successful 2015 World Cup semifinal against South Africa at Eden Park.
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For optimists, New Zealand's struggle means India might face a complicated chase under another cloudy ceiling with moisture baking out of the ground. Swing might be in the air.
If Williamson toiled to 67 off 95 balls, the opposition might also hesitate. However, with the tournament's leading run-scorer in Rohit "five centuries" Sharma and Virat "world's best batsman" Kohli headlining a line-up of Indian Premier League blazers, their chances of success are more probable than possible.