Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - Page 20 News List

McCullum’s second double-ton against India gives NZ hope

AFP, WELLINGTON, New Zealand

An exhausted Brendon McCullum fought through pain in an epic record-breaking innings that rescued New Zealand from near-certain defeat yesterday and set them up for a series-saving result against India.

“It’s been a great day,” the New Zealand captain said as he walked off unbeaten on 281 after posting a raft of records and steering his side into a safe position in the second Test. “I’m a little bit tired, the body is a bit sore, but when you’re scoring runs your body doesn’t hurt so much.”

The hosts began their second innings 246 behind India and were staring down the barrel of defeat at 94-5, but they ended Day Four on 571-6, 325 runs ahead and with four wickets in hand.

McCullum was 19 runs away from being the first New Zealander to reach 300, with the record currently held by Martin Crowe, who reached 299 against Sri Lanka on the same ground in 1991.

Battling back, leg and shoulder injuries, the 32-year-old McCullum was in the middle for nearly 12 hours and clearly exhausted as he entered the dressing room.

“The last hour was a bit of a daze in all honesty and I was just trying to get through. Thankfully, Neesh [Jimmy Neesham] was playing some shots and ticking the board over because I was just hanging in there, if I’m brutally honest,” the skipper said.

McCullum and BJ Watling, who made a career-best 124, set a world-record sixth-wicket Test stand of 352, one more than the 351 by Sri Lankans Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene against India in 2009.

It was also the third-best New Zealand stand for any wicket, while McCullum joins Glenn Turner as the only New Zealanders to score two double-centuries in the same series. Turner achieved the feat in the West Indies in 1972.

McCullum — who scored 224 to set up New Zealand’s 40-run victory in the first Test and made 225 against India at Hyderabad in 2010 — equalled Stephen Fleming as only the second New Zealander to score three career double-centuries.

“You have dreams and [you] don’t always live them, but today I thought BJ and myself were able to put ourselves in a really strong position,” McCullum said.

He had lives on nine and 36 — dropped by Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma — but otherwise produced an exemplary captain’s knock to save his side.

Watling said that New Zealand could bat for at least another hour today before pushing for what would be an extraordinary win. Yet McCullum said there were other considerations, given India’s high-profile batting line up.

“We are obviously 1-0 up in the series and have worked really hard to get back into this contest, and the decisions we have to look at is if we look to push on for a Test win or if we look to consolidate the lead we have got — knowing how far out of the game we were,” he said.

“Those are the decisions we have to mull over overnight and they were decisions we didn’t have a couple of days ago. It is nice to be in that luxury position,” McCullum added.

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