Wellington, Feb 17: New Zealand turned their rearguard performance into a grinding one, keeping India in the field for a fifth successive session in the second Test and reaching 440/5 at tea on day four here today. At the Basin Reserve, skipper Brendon McCullum (228 not out, 441 balls, 25 fours, 2 sixes) and BJ Watling (119 not out, 360 balls, 13 fours) broke a plethora of records to frustrate the Indian team and extending their lead to 194 runs.
They have now put on 346 unbeaten runs for the sixth wicket, even as Indian bowlers were guilty of not keeping a tight line in this first session. Zaheer Khan (3-115), Mohammad Shami (1-103) and Ishant Sharma (0-103) looked for any signs of help from the wicket, but none was forthcoming as the batsmen ground them down.
Ravindra Jadeja (1-78) was ineffective as well, while part-timers Rohit Sharma (0-18) and Virat Kohli (0-12) were given a go as well in hopes of breaking this partnership.
Post-lunch, McCullum (169*) and Watling (90*) looked to further increase their brilliant domination of this Indian attack on a pitch that has completely changed character to become a batting beauty. They brought up the 350-mark for New Zealand in the 128th over, first one after the break, and then carried on to reach personal milestones.
First up they broke the highest partnership record for New Zealand for any wicket against India, passing the 271 runs scored by Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder in Napier in 2009. Then in the 138th over, Watling brought up his 3rd Test century in 420 minutes, facing 297 balls and hitting 12 fours.
Unlike his captain who was dropped twice, the keeper-batsman never even gave a sniff to the Indian bowlers. Their 300-run partnership came in the 142nd over, and then two overs later, McCullum became the first New Zealand batsman to hit back-to-back double hundreds. He scored his runs off 395 balls, batting for a mammoth 537 minutes, and hitting 24 fours as well as 1 six.
It was his third double hundred, all three having come against India, and he is only the second New Zealand batsman after Stephen Fleming to score three double-hundreds. PTI