During the lunch on the third day, the second test between India and New Zealand, was literally in India’s bag. In the session before lunch New Zealand had lost 4 wickets on 87 runs. Soon after lunch, New Zealand lost another wicket and their score stood at 94/5 with McCullum unbeaten on a labored 19 from 72 balls. At this point New Zealand still trailed India by 152 runs. With Watling keeping him company, the thought uppermost in McCullum’s mind would have revolved around making India bat again. For India, it was merely a matter of getting rid of another batsman to make the victory come nearer. Brendon McCullum had come at the fall of third wicket at 52 and he took 14 balls before he could get off the mark. When he had scored just 9 runs, he was dropped by Virat Kohli off Mohammed Shami. It was a relatively easy chance, as the ball flew slowly to Kohli’s left but he muffed it. McCullum got another life at 36, when Ishant Sharma couldn’t latch on to another easy chance on his follow through. The batsman played early to a ball and the flyer hit Sharma on his right hand and then struck his chest, before falling on the ground. On those two occasions, Kohli and Sharma had no inkling as to how the two lapses would cost India in the long run. McCullum and Watling didn’t get separated all through the day. The chance for India of returning home, with at least one test victory, began to fade late on the third day, when the two New Zealand batsmen completely nullified the deficit.
But what happened on the fourth day was a like leaf from the book of dreams. The two overnight batsmen continued from where they left off on previous night and took the score to 446, before Watling was out after scoring a well-deserved century. New Zealand ended the day with 325 run lead and placed themselves in a winning position, thanks to a patient McCullum knock of 281 not out. The record sixth wicket stand of 352 runs not only took the game away from India but created a burden on the Indians to save the game on the final day, from the once fancied situation, five sessions earlier. Indian bowlers, who bowled out New Zealand for 192 in the first innings returned to their true weak form in the Kiwi’s second knock. No one feared them once McCullum showed the way. Even debutant Jimmy Neesham scored a bright unbeaten century. After bowling New Zealand cheaply in the first innings, India batted solidly to pile up 438. Rahane scored a century, Dhawan missed his by 2 runs, Dhoni made 68 and there were useful contributions from Ishant Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Zaheer Khan. With a lead of 246, India found themselves in the driver’s seat but no one could have guessed the events that would unfold later in the game.
On the fifth day, McCullum completed his triple century to become the first New Zealander to do so. When New Zealand finally declared at 680/8, India had a target of 435 ahead of them. Suddenly the loss of two quick wickets put India in the danger of conceding another test match to New Zealand. However, sensible batting after the loss of Pujara, saved the day for India. Kohli went on to score his sixth test match hundred and the third away from India. Rohit Sharma kept him company in helping India to a tame draw.
But the test match will always be remembered for McCullum. The captain led from the front in one of the greatest rearguard action in test match history. He came to the crease with New Zealand staring at an innings defeat on the third day. With five second innings wicket lost for 94, no one would have given New Zealand any chance to save the test match. From a position, when it was clearly India’s game, McCullum showed the patient way to bat. Watling and Neesham followed on the footsteps of the skipper and kept batting on and on, without ever running into trouble. India’s bowlers were a frustrated lot and at one time, Dhoni thought he could break the Kiwi stranglehold as he removed his gloves and came on to bowl one over. New Zealanders, however, were in no mood to give up the good work, as they began beating the Indian bowling to pulp. Despite his physical condition not being on topside, McCullum went on. The crowd in the stadium applauded loudly for McCullum even for the balls that he left alone. He drew out the remaining reserves from his body and kept batting. McCullum got some respite when Neesham came on because; the debutant himself was capable of making mincemeat of Indian bowlers. For India, it was a sad end from a once exalted position.
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