India vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Day Four: McCullum, Watling record sixth wicket partnership put New Zealand on top

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Brendon McCullum (281 batting) and B.J. Watling’s (124) record 352-run partnership for the sixth wicket took New Zealand to 571 for six, 325 runs ahead of India at the end of Day Four of the second and final Test at the Basin Reserve here Monday. The partnership between the NZ duo is the highest in the world for the sixth wicket and put the hosts in control of the match.

New Zealand, who started the day at 252 for five, are now in a position to dictate terms. Even after the mammoth sixth-wicket partnership, India had a chance to take back control. But another brilliant stand, unbeaten 125-run partnership, between Jimmy Neesham (67 batting) and McCullum thwarted India’s efforts.

There was a records galore as McCullum and Watling led New Zealand’s fight-back with some resilient batting. McCullum, who is nearing a triple-century, became New Zealand’s second highest individual scorer and if he scores 19 more runs, he will become the first Kiwi batsman to reach the mark.

India, to their credit, never let their shoulders fall. They were excellent on the field and Ishant Sharma, who had picked up six wickets in the first innings, bowled well, but without much luck. Mohammad Shami, who was the sole wicket-taker Monday, too bowled in good areas. Zaheer Khan, though, laboured throughout the day. He bowled without any sting and found the going tough while fielding as well.

Earlier, McCullum recorded his third double century while Watling scored his third hundred, as New Zealand reached 440 for five at tea. The NZ pair piled on the misery for Indian bowlers who had failed to take a wicket in more than 120 overs.

The Indian bowlers looked short of ideas and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought on Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to change things around. But that too didn’t work as McCullum and Watling continued to pile on the runs.

In the mornig session, McCullum, who was dropped twice on Day Three, offered half a chance to Shikhar Dhawan at second slip but other than that he was exceptional.

Watling too gave his skipper able company, barely giving Indian bowlers a sniff. IANS