Brendon McCullum acknowledges the crowd after reaching his double hundred in the second Test against India
, 17 February. Reuters
From trying to save the match, New Zealand find themselves in a position to push for a win after Day 4 of the second Test against India in Wellington. At stumps New Zealand have a 325-run lead with Brendon McCullum unbeaten on 281.
McCullum could be New Zealand's first ever batsman to score a triple century if New Zealand decide to bat on the final morning. But, McCullum said he still had not made a decision on that particular aspect yet. "I cannot assure you on that yet. Whatever we decide, we will make sure we give it a 100 percent," he said on Monday after Day 4.
"We have worked really hard to get back into this contest, so that is one decision we have to look at, whether we try and push on for a Test win or we look to consolidate the lead that we have got knowing how far out of the game we were.
"Those are the decisions we have to mull over tonight. The decisions were not in our court a couple of days ago. It is nice to be able to be in that luxury position to make those decisions, and to know that you have worked incredibly hard to get into that situation to give you that luxury of making those decisions."
BJ Watling, who scored a hundred himself, suggested the decision to bat or put India in would depend on the pitch conditions. Watling came good with the bat this innings by providing stability to the 352-run world record sixth-wicket stand alongside McCullum.
"We would definitely love to win the Test but we still think there is a job to be done in the first hour tomorrow [Tuesday] morning and see where we are at. It's still a good batting track but I think if the conditions are right, our bowlers could come out there and swing it and try and put them under a bit of pressure and possibly try and win a Test match."
McCullum was impressed by the way Watling and James Neesham came to the fore at the right time, taking a meager 6-run lead all the way to a daunting 325 runs. "We set our game plans and our strategies, and you dream the dreams and you don't always live them," the NZ skipper said.
Today, BJ and myself were able to put ourselves in a very good position, and the way Jimmy Neesham came in and created that partnership. At the end of the day, we are incredibly pleased with where we are at.
Talking of Watling's hard work and effort the skipper added: "He has got that real resilient streak about him. [It takes a] special kind of pluck to stand up and do what he did in this Test match, and bat as long as he did for us to be able to create that partnership and pick up some accolades along the way as well.
"[I'm] delighted for BJ and also with Neesh for the way he started. It has been a good day for us."
There were heads dropping in the Indian camp after 189 overs in the field. Shikhar Dhawan was of the opinion that losing control of the match wasn't the ideal plan but he was also quick to add that the team were ready to chase down any target that would come their way.
"We came with the mindset that we will get them out and bat and chase down whatever runs are needed. But it didn't go our way, we have to take it in our stride and see what happens in tomorrow," Dhawan said after a nightmare day in the field for India.
"In the morning we will look to get them out and then whatever the target is, we will bat according to the situation.
Dhawan insisted India were still in with a chance and would go all out for a victory come Day 5.
"There is one more day left tomorrow. We will try our best to win here. Even if we lose, there is a lot to learn from it. There is disappointment but we have played some good cricket, getting them out for a low score. We batted well, basically we dominated till today but today they turned the tables on us. That is part and parcel of the game and that is how we learn."
Dhawan commended the New Zealand comeback but regretted having dropped McCullum earlier in his innings - with Ishant Sharma and Virat Kohli letting slip a couple of opportunities which would have had the Kiwi captain back in the hut on Day 3.
"We bowled in good areas," Dhawan added. "We were patient. Their run rate was low but New Zealand didn't give any chances. Once the batsmen get set and they score big runs, it isn't easy to get them out. They applied themselves very nicely.
"The wicket has improved, it has got slower. McCullum and Watling batted beautifully. They respected the good balls and didn't give us any opportunity the whole day. Unfortunately, we dropped McCullum and paid a heavy price for that."