SOUTHAMPTON: These are still early days, but going by what unfolded on Day 3 of the World Test Championship final, New Zealand are close to gaining an upper hand at the Rose Bowl.
After Kyle Jamieson triggered an Indian collapse on Sunday to restrict them to 217, Devon Conway led the way for New Zealand with 54 to take them to 101-2 when bad light brought an early end to the day.
The gloomy conditions continue to be challenging for batsmen. Other than facing a quality attack, batsmen from both teams have had to make adjustments of batting under natural light and artificial light.
Add the cloud cover, which always keeps the bowlers in the hunt, this is setting up perfectly for an exciting final.
That could change considerably on Monday if India don't get early wickets as the Black Caps looked more at home in these testing conditions.
For all the talk of New Zealand being underdogs, their attack showed that is a total myth.
These are conditions that are similar to what they find back home and were up against a side they had beaten inside just five days in two Tests combined last year.
The discipline that India's batting unit showed on Day 2 went missing on Day 3 and Kyle Jamieson made them pay for it. 146-3 overnight, India lost their last six wickets for just 68 runs to bowl out for 217, 50 short of a par total.
India now have failed to touch 250 against New Zealand in five successive innings.
On Saturday, the New Zealand bowlers were guilty of erring in line and length and allowed India to get a good start. However, on Sunday, they were on the mark from the word go.
Following a delayed start, Jamieson and Trent Boult wasted no time in troubling overnight batsmen Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.
The Indian captain departed in the third over of the day without adding to his overnight score of 44 to a Jamieson ball that seamed late to trap him leg before wicket.
It followed a period where the two bowled six maidens on the trot to Rahane and Rishabh Pant, who took 21 balls to get off the mark.
Although Rahane looked assured with his movement, the same couldn't be said of Pant.
Unlike the rest of the top-order, Pant didn't show restraint while going for balls outside off and eventually perished caught at slips when he went for an expansive drive.
Such was the control of the Kiwi seamers in the first hour of play that they conceded just 25 runs and took two wickets.
But India's troubles were only getting bigger. Rahane, who had looked assured right through his stay by abandoning his flashy strokes, was just beginning to look fluent.
For a player who has played priceless knocks overseas when the team needed it the most, he has also been guilty of throwing away starts.
And this was another case in point as he swatted a short-delivery straight to the hands of the square-leg fielder who had just been moved there.
All this while New Zealand had still not taken the new ball. And once they took the new ball, the rest stood no chance.
Ravichandran Ashwin counter-attacked his way to 22, but that was the only worthwhile resistance.
Brief Scores: India 1st Innings: 217 all out in 92.1 overs (Virat Kohli 44, Ajinkya Rahane 49, Rohit Sharma 34; Kyle Jamieson 5/31, Neil Wagner 2/40, Trent Boult 2/47).
New Zealand 1st Innings: 101 for 2 in 49 overs (Devon Conway 54, Tom Latham 30; Ishant Sharma 1/19, R Ashwin 1/20).