February 10, 2014 4:07:51 am
Brendon McCullum wears ‘224’ close to his heart. Just below the sliver fern crest, on the left side of his chest. It’s his number: He is the 224th player to have represented New Zealand in Tests. Sunday’s win over India gave an extra significance to this figure. Now, in the light of the result, he considers 224, which he made during the first innings of the first Test on Friday, his best knock as well.
“A couple of days ago, I said in the press conference that if we went on to win, this would be a performance that I would cherish the most,” McCullum, asked how he rated this knock, said after the match. “So, yeah, it’s the best innings that I have played for New Zealand, now that we have gone on and won the Test match. And what a win it was! I am delighted to make a significant contribution, also credit to partnerships with some other guys. Kane (Williamson) in particular and Corey (Anderson) too.”
For long periods on Day Three and Day Four, however, it looked like his double century might end up in a losing cause. After New Zealand got all out for 105 in the second innings, the big talking point was if McCullum has taken the foot off India’s throat. And by the second session on Sunday, it had become India’s foot on New Zealand’s throat as Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli took the team past the halfway mark without really breaking a sweat. McCullum admitted to have felt the match slipping away from New Zealand’s grip.
“We know the quality of their batsmen and how they are capable of putting together big scores and big partnerships. At one stage, when they were sitting 222 for 2, we were starting to get ourselves behind the eight ball, and it took something special to get us out of that.
“We respect the Indian team a lot for what they have done and where they sit in the world rankings, and that’s what makes this victory so special,” he said.
However, he added that at no time did he regret not enforcing the follow on. “I never regretted it for a moment. It’s one of those ones where everybody has got their own opinion. In the end you have got to make your decision. In the end you live and die by the decision you make.”
McCullum made the decision, but it was medium pace Neil Wagner who made sure New Zealand were living at the end of it.
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