New Zealand duo Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling go in for Tea during Day 4 of the second Test against India
, 17 February. Reuters
Brendon McCullum said someone needed to score a double century for New Zealand to have any chance of not just saving the Test, but also putting India back behind the eight ball in the second Test match at Basin Reserve.
Well, the New Zealand skipper played a captain's knock of momentous proportions to break India's resolve brick by brick, ball by ball, and build a potentially match-winning second innings score, when at one point, remarkably, New Zealand looked on course for an innings defeat.
McCullum is unconquered, unflappable and unstoppable on a you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it 281 (525b, 28x4, 4x6) at the close of play, with BJ Watling (124), while putting on a world record partnership with his skipper for the sixth wicket, making a hundred of his own, before falling to the third new ball. However, that only opened up the opportunity for James Neesham (67 n.o., 96b, 9x4) to twist that knife a little further into the Indian team's hearts, with New Zealand finishing Day 4 on a quite remarkable 571 for six in 189 overs, for a lead of 325.
Starting at 252 for five on Day 4, following an unbeaten 158-run stand between McCullum and Watling, the duo just picked up from where they had left off, never looking too troubled and increasing that deficit like a bucket filling up drop by drop.
The India bowlers toiled hard on a wicket that did not do anything for them, and with the ball getting older, the New Zealand batsmen just got bolder, breaking one record after another - New Zealand's best sixth-wicket stand, the best partnership against India, before taking over the record for the best-ever sixth wicket partnership.
In between all that, McCullum, starting from an overnight score of 118, reached his double century with an immaculate boundary, and with it becoming the first Kiwi batsmen to score back-to-back doubles.
Watling, not to be left behind, kept soaking up the deliveries, while inching to his hundred, which he got a few overs before McCullum's ton, and also courtesy a boundary, with Zaheer Khan again the bowler at the receiving end.
The lead reached the 200-mark, with McCullum and Watling breaking the record set by the two Jayawardene's - Mahela and Prasanna - also against India, of 351 in 2009, by making 352 hard-earned runs of their own in a ridiculous 123 overs.
Right after breaching that mark, however, Watling (124, 13x4) was finally dismissed, after playing a momentous 367 deliveries, with Mohammed Shami, with a new ball in hand, getting one to tail in and rap the Kiwi wicketkeeper on the pads.
However, that wicket proved to be just a minor blip in New Zealand's torture of the India bowlers, with Neesham joining hands with the impenetrable McCullum, to rub further salt into India's gaping wounds.
New Zealand will probably wait for McCullum to complete his triple hundred on the final day, before declaring, with India's chances of levelling the series vanishing quicker than the sun on a cloudy day.
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