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New Zealand-India test draw, NZ wins series 1-0

February 18, 2014

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand won the two-test series against India 1-0 when the second test ended in a draw on Tuesday after captain Brendon McCullum made a historic triple century to lead a remarkable fightback.

McCullum made 302 — the first triple century by a New Zealander in tests — to allow the home team to declare at its highest test score of 680-8, with an overall lead of 434 after it trailed India by 246 runs on the first innings.

India was 166-3 when stumps were drawn early at the Basin Reserve with Virat Kohli 105 not out and Rohit Sharma 31.

McCullum played the longest and largest innings by a New Zealand test batsman, with the 13-hour innings eclipsing Martin Crowe’s 299 against Sri Lanka, also at the Basin Reserve, in 1991.

“I’m very respectful of all the guys who I managed to get past today, Martin Crowe in particular who has held the record for over 20 years.

“I almost feel a little embarrassed to go past a player of that calibre and Stephen Fleming and all the other names on that list as well. It’s just incredibly humbling to put your name up there and score the first triple century for New Zealand.”

New Zealand was 52-3 when McCullum came to the crease and 94-5 four overs after lunch on the third day — facing defeat and the prospect of a squared series.

Then began the world record sixth-wicket partnership of 352 with wicketkeeper BJ Watling which turned the match.

When Watling was out for 124 at 446-6, New Zealand held a 200-run lead but the match was still in the balance. So McCullum carried on, putting on 179 for the seventh wicket with Jimmy Neesham, who made a century on debut and was 137 not out when the declaration came.

Through those two partnerships, McCullum led New Zealand from the precipice of defeat to a position from which defeat was impossible. His innings was widely hailed as the best by a New Zealander, not just for its duration or magnitude but because it took his team from seemingly imminent defeat into a position of strength.

McCullum began the final day 281 not out, and a big crowd turned out on a working day to witness history. Men in suits lounged on the grassy bank and spectators applauded every ball as he edged towards the historic mark.

Hearts leapt into mouths when McCullum, at 293, edged a ball from Ishant Sharma which bounced inches in front of the gloves of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

He finally ushered New Zealand to test cricket’s 300 club — the last of the top eight nations to admit a member — with a four behind point off Zaheer Khan and received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.

He was out two balls later, having batted 775 minutes and faced 559 balls.

“I was pretty tired after the batting,” McCullum said. “But for us to come through this game under immense pressure for a couple of days on end against a bowling attack which was operating at their very best was a pretty big relief.

“We’re going to enjoy this moment. Test series wins don’t come around very often, especially at home against a very good India team.”

It was New Zealand’s first test series win over India since 2002.

India, which went into the match with only three specialist fast bowlers, bowled 210 overs over more than seven sessions. The 35-year-old veteran Zaheer bowled 51 and finished with 5-170.

India captain Dhoni said while his team was disappointed to lose the series it could only admire the New Zealand fightback.

“We need to appreciate how Brendon batted along with Watling,” Dhoni said. “New Zealand played very good cricket to win the series, especially in this test match.”

New Zealand flirted with the possibility of a victory on Tuesday, which would have made its fightback even more spectacular by achieving a 2-0 series win.

India lost both of its openers, Murali Vijay (7) and Shikhar Dhawan (2), within seven balls after lunch to be 10-2.

Kohli survived an appeal for caught behind from the bowling of Trent Boult: Television replays revealed he edged the ball.

Had that wicket fallen and Tim Southee held a catch from his own bowling to dismiss Sharma when he was 10, New Zealand might have pressed for victory, but Kohli and Sharma negated the threat.

Kohli reached his sixth test century from only 129 balls with 15 fours and a six.

Watling held a catch to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara for 17, becoming only the second test wicketkeeper to take 15 catches in a two-match series.

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