Brendon McCullum finished the day unbeaten on 281 not out as New Zealand batted their way out of trouble in remarkable fashion on Day 4 against India in Wellington, reaching stumps in their second innings at 571-6.
McCullum batted through the day, but only one wicket fell at the other end all day—that of BJ Watling for 124—and even then only after the pair had combined to put on a record partnership of 352 runs together for the sixth wicket.
That was a record for the sixth wicket in the history of Test cricket, eclipsing Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene's effort for Sri Lanka against the same opponents in 2009.
6th wkt Test record stands Bradman/Fingleton held it for 72y-10m-13d The Jayawardenes held it for 4y-2m-28d McCullum/Watling ??? #NZvInd— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) February 17, 2014
Debutant Jimmy Neesham then joined his skipper in the middle and breezed to 67 not out from 96 balls, as if to underline how differently the pitch was playing since it lost its green tinge at the start of the match.
|New Zealand vs. India, 2nd Test: Day 4 Scorecard|
|New Zealand 2nd Innings||1st Innings 192||India 438|
|Fulton||lbw||b Zaheer Khan||1||6||6|
|Rutherford||c Dhoni||b Zaheer Khan||35||77||55|
|Williamson||c Dhoni||b Zaheer Khan||7||37||22|
|Latham||c Dhoni||b Shami||29||110||64|
|B McCullum||not out||281||722||525|
|Anderson||c and b Jadeja||2||12||6|
|Extras||7nb 2w 5b 11lb||25|
|Total||for 6||571||(189.0 ovs)|
Nonetheless, the turnaround has been astonishing. When Watling joined McCullum just after lunch on Day 3, the Black Caps were 94-5 and staring down the barrel of an innings defeat.
India, who now trail by 325 runs going into the final day of the series, now need something of a miracle to level the two-Test clash after suffering defeat in Auckland.
McCullum will know how well the pitch is playing and have little reason to do anything but bat on—besides, he is just 19 runs away from a maiden triple century—and with it the highest Test innings in the history of New Zealand cricket, eclipsing Martin Crowe's 299.
He would richly deserve it, having batted with rare application and grit.
McCullum's reputation is for being a power hitter, but two double centuries in as many Tests suggest there is far more to his game, and his unbeaten 525-ball vigil in Wellington proves his concentration levels are excellent.
In the morning he and Watling added 95 trouble-free runs, while in the afternoon the landmarks finally arrived.
Watling's century, coming off 297 deliveries, will go unsung, but it was just as important to the recovery. He eventually fell lbw to Mohammed Shami just after tea, as India got a lift from the third new ball.
Their bowlers will be exhausted after a second straight full day in the field, but they did their best to test the batsmen's patience on an unhelpful pitch.
But this was not their day, nor their story. It will be all eyes on McCullum when he returns to the crease on Day 5.