New Zealand players celebrate their 1-0 series win over India
, 18 February. Reuters
The final day of the second Test might as well not have happened - not from New Zealand's perspective, because Brendon McCullum created history -- but from India's point of view.
Having left deflated after a Day 4 Test match batting masterclass from McCullum and co., India were left with just one option on Day 5 - save the Test and settle for a 1-0 loss in the series.
Virat Kohli led from the front towards that goal, scoring an unbeaten 105 from 135 balls (15x4, 1x6), and thus ensuring at least India would not finish the series with a 2-0 loss, after New Zealand had set the away side a you're-never-gonna-get-it target of 435 from 67 overs.
In the morning, New Zealand, predictably elected to continue batting, with McCullum within touching distance of becoming the first Kiwi batsman to score a triple hundred.
Resuming his innings on 281, with New Zealand 571 for six, McCullum hit his stride without too much trouble, with James Neesham, at the other end, looking equally good.
Neesham was the first to get to his landmark, scoring a hundred on debut, before a couple of deliveries later, the whole stadium stood in applause as McCullum, playing the innings of his career, reached that magical 300-run mark with a boundary, cutting Zaheer Khan to third man with aplomb.
The celebrations finally came to the fore, after rather subdued raising of the bats following his hundred and double hundred. Having put New Zealand firmly in the driver's seat, from a we-are-never-going-to-survive position, the celebrations were well and truly earned.
Inevitably, McCullum, with body and mind as tired as it can be, fell just a couple of deliveries later, edging one off Zaheer through to MS Dhoni - but with the job done and a momentous 559-ball 302 (32x4, 4x6) to his name, the walk back to the pavilion could not have been sweeter.
"Very satisfying, very respectful of all the guys I got past," McCullum said during the presentation ceremony after being named the man of the match. "Almost embarrassed to go past Martin Crowe. Incredibly humbling to get my name there and score the first triple. Thanks to all those who supported me through it all, especially the boys."
Neesham (137 n.o., 154b, 20x4) tonked a few just to add to India's misery as New Zealand declared on 680 for eight.
The target of 435 was never really achievable, with New Zealand given hope of pulling off a stunning victory after the openers - Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay - went in the space of an over.
Dhawan (2) was given lbw off Trent Boult while shouldering arms, while Vijay (7) edged one soon after to the slips off Tim Southee.
Cheteshwar Pujara (17, 50b, 3x4) and Kohli settled the nerves amongst the Indian camp with a 44-run partnership from 17 overs, before the former gloved one to wicketkeeper Watling off Southee.
India were in a we-can-still-lose-from-here-you-know position at that moment, but Rohit Sharma (30, 87b, 4x4) showed good resolve and with the impregnable Kohli at the other end, the match petered out to a draw with India finishing on 166 for three.
A big series win for New Zealand, their first against India since 2002-03, while Dhoni and co. are left to ponder about yet another away series loss.
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