India’s listless bowlers allowed New Zealand off the hook as the home team rode on skipper Brendon McCullum’s monumental double century to continue their remarkable fightback and take a commanding lead on the fourth and penultimate day of the second cricket Test here today.
McCullum remained unbeaten on 281 runs and shared a world record partnership of 352 runs for the sixth wicket with BJ Watling (124), helping their side reach a formidable 571/6 at stumps and take the game away from India at the Basin Reserve.
India, who had New Zealand in a spot of bother at 94 for five in their second innings yesterday, are now facing the prospect of even losing the match with the hosts swelling their lead to 325 runs. The duo defied the visitors for 123 overs and turned around a 246-run deficit into a massive lead with one day left in the match.
McCullum was still batting after nearly six sessions at the crease, facing 525 balls and hitting 28 fours and 4 sixes. At the other end, James Neesham brought up his maiden Test fifty and was unbeaten on 67 off 93 balls, with 9 fours. For India, Zaheer Khan (3-129), Mohammad Shami (2-136) and Ishant Sharma (0-124) toiled hard on an unresponsive pitch, particularly with the third new ball. Ravindra Jadeja (1-108) was rendered ineffective as well. Part-timers Rohit Sharma (0-40) and Virat Kohli (0-13) were given a go to try something different, while skipper MS Dhoni (0-5) also bowled after the tea-break.
Starting at 440/5 after tea, the set batsmen had another string of batting records coming their way, with the pitch playing perfect foil to them. As Dhoni bowled his gentle medium-pace first up, McCullum and Watling crossed the 350-mark for their partnership in the 159th over. An over later, they brought up the highest ever sixth-wicket partnership in Test cricket breaking the 351-mark by Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene, also set against India at Ahmedabad in 2009. Their lead also swelled to 200 in the meantime.