302 is the magic number

302 is the magic number

Day five: BLACKCAPS 690-8 declared (Brendon McCullum 302, Jimmy Neesham 137*, Zaheer Khan 5-170) and 192 drew with India 166-3 (Virat Kohli 105*) and 438. 

The big crowd that gathered early got what they came to see, the first triple hundred by a New Zealander. Brendon McCullum showed no nerves getting to his milestone, shortly after Jimmy Neesham reached his own, a century on debut. The declaration came shortly before lunch, and after two early wickets hopes were raised of a remarkable win, before the Indian batsmen dug in to avoid defeat but hand the series to New Zealand 1-0. 


The morning of the fifth day had a slightly surreal feel to it as the crowds bustled in, hopeful of being part of a little part of New Zealand Cricket history. 
Brendon McCullum started the day 19 short of the 300 mark. Not to be overshadowed, Jimmy Neesham was 33 runs short of a Test hundred on debut. 

You could hear a pin drop for every ball that McCullum faced - and for all the attention, the man himself looked content to play his natural game. Both men entered the 'nervous 90s' together, and the most nerve-wracking moment of the morning occurred when McCullum edged Ishant Sharma on 292, but it fell just short of Dhoni.   


In the end the two milestones came quickly, with Neesham pulling Ishant for four, then pushing two runs to reach his century from 123 balls, coming in when there was still work to be done and supporting his skipper and his side admirably. 

McCullum's milestone came cutting Zaheer Khan to the fence. There was a tremendous roar and the skipper raised the bat to the crowd and his team mates, and gave Neesham a big hug - it had been a moment that the country had stopped and willed their captain toward, and the relief and sense of achievement was palpable. 

And so, after becoming the first New Zealander to reach 300 in a Test innings and passing Martin Crowe's previous highest score of 299 on the way, he was out two balls later, caught by MS Dhoni from Khan. There was a brief moment of anti-climax or disbelief, but that was soon overtaken by a standing ovation from the Basin crowd of 3357.   

Tim Southee, who'd had the pads on for some time was finally free to swing the arms, and that he did until he skied Khan to Pujara and departed for 11. 

Neil Wagner and Neesham continued on, to bring up two more significant milestones. Neesham recorded the highest-ever debut score for a number eight Test batsman, and then the BLACKCAPS edged past the all-time highest New Zealand innings total, beating the previous high of 671.   

The declaration came with half an hour to lunch, on 680-8, leaving India a 435 run mountain to climb and four overs to face before lunch. 

They were negotiated safely, but after lunch there were two quick wickets. Shikar Dhawan shouldered arms and was given lbw from Trent Boult's bowling in the fifth over for two, then Vijay edged Southee to Corey Anderson at third slip in the sixth over for seven. 


There was a very confident shout for lbw on Kohli when India were 31-2 but it was not given, despite snicko showing some activity. Kohli went on to play a stylish, confident innings, reaching his 50 and progressing on. 

Cheteshwar Pujara went in the 23rd over in a leg side strangle for 17. Rohit Sharma came in and looked more at home than he had through the series, helping make a 100 run partnership with Kohli, before the latter brought up his ton with two consecutive boundaries.  

With 15 overs to go, stumps were drawn and the series ended in a 1-0 win for the BLACKCAPS. And so the last match of the home summer wound down rather than finishing with a bang, but the ODI and Test series wins against such a strong Indian team will live long in the memory for BLACKCAPS fans. 


Day four: BLACKCAPS 571-6 (Brendon McCullum 281*, BJ Watling 124, Jimmy Neesham 67) and 192 lead India 438 by 325 runs.  

At the end of day four, the BLACKCAPS lead by over 300 and had turned the match on its head, coming back from 94-5 to score 452 runs for the loss of a single wicket. Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling's all-time Test record 6th wicket partnership of 352 broke milestone after milestone in a statistician's dream, but no-one needs to be reminded that day five offers an obvious milestone for the skipper and another for the BLACKCAPS. It will be gripping whatever happens.


The sixth wicket stand between Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling that drew the headlines overnight immediately set about writing some more on day four. 

The pair picked up where they left off, frustrating the Indian attack, who were guilty of loose lines and lengths. McCullum was punishing, happy to swing the bat at anything wayward, and got the rewards he deserved.  

There was a tough chance for a catch at second slip when McCullum was on 157, just missed by a diving Shikar Dhawan. From then on it was a matter of counting the milestones, and standing up and applauding if you were one of the 2294 in the ground.  


After 296 balls and long periods of playing out dot balls, Watling brought up his century, a just reward for a patient, watchful innings played for the team. Then McCullum became the first New Zealander to score two consecutive double centuries of the series in the 144th over, raising the bat to the crowd, but keeping the celebrations under control, knowing there was still work to be done.

The pair reached the significant milestone of New Zealand's highest Test 6th wicket partnership in the 156th over, passing Martin Guptill and McCullum's (!) stand against Bangladesh in Hamilton in 2010. The same shot also took McCullum past his own highest ever Test score. 

Still not done, McCullum and Watling's partnership became the highest ever Test 6th wicket partnership before tea, going past Mahela Jayawardene and Prasanna Jayawardene's 351 in 2009 against India. 

In a slightly surreal moment, MS Dhoni himself took off the pads and bowled the first over after tea, but had limited success, making way for more established bowlers as the new ball arrived. 

Two balls later, BJ Watling was adjudged lbw, struck on the back foot by Mohammed Shami, ending the partnership at 352, a monumental effort to say the least, considering the pair came together at 94-5. 

Jimmy Neesham joined his skipper and slotted in nervelessly, helping take the innings even further with a mixture of care and power. 

All eyes were on McCullum, whose innings had become the longest ever by New Zealander. Obviously feeling the effects of so much time at the crease, he brought up his 250 with a six over backward square, but he was still prepared to run singles hard and hit boundaries, despite a few tune-ups by BLACKCAPS physio Paul Close. 


Neesham brought up his own maiden Test 50 near the close of play - by then the 7th wicket partnership had surpassed 100 runs and given the BLACKCAPS a lead of over 300 runs. The two men received a warm ovation from the crowd, who had seemingly spent most of the day applauding. They'll be hoping for more opportunities to do the same on day five. 

Tickets to day five of the second ANZ Test have been discounted to $20 adults, $15 concession and $5 juniors online and at the gate. 


Day three: BLACKCAPS 252-5 (Brendon McCullum 114* BJ Watling 52*) and 192 lead India 438 by six runs.  

Brendon McCullum's unbeaten ninth Test hundred, BJ Watling's 52 not out and their 158 run partnership that they'll continue in the morning told the story of the last two sessions for the BLACKCAPS. Coming together at 94-5, the pair fought back, tracking down then overtaking India's total. The pair live to fight again on day four, looking to build on their six run lead and set India a total to chase in the last innings. There could be drama here yet. 

Hamish Rutherford and Kane Williamson resumed for the BLACKCAPS on a glorious Wellington day. Digging in was the name of the game with so much time left in the match, but India got success early when Williamson was on seven, getting an extremely faint edge to Zaheer Khan in the 11th over to be caught by MS Dhoni. Rutherford looked good value for his 35, playing steadily with Tom Latham and happy to put the bad ball away, but was undone by Khan, getting the edge to Dhoni behind the stumps. 

Latham and McCullum were circumspect in their approach, happy to push the ball and run to keep the scoreboard ticking, as well as getting behind the ball and playing solid defence where necessary. McCullum was dropped on nine by Virat Kohli, fielding at short mid on, but Latham was caught on the last ball before lunch from Mohammed Shami by Dhoni, bringing his patient innings to a close. 

Corey Anderson was unable to stick around, offering a return catch when he was on two to Ravindra Jadeja, who gleefully gobbled it. 

BJ Watling joined McCullum when the BLACKCAPS were 94-5 and helped build their partnership, steering a path through the middle session in enthralling fashion. McCullum was dropped again by Ishant Sharma from his own bowling when he was on 36, offering a sharp return catch. 

After tea the milestones came thick and fast, with Watling bringing up his 1000th Test run when he cut Mohammed Shami to the fence for four, and McCullum his 5000th with a drive through the covers. McCullum also became the first NZ batsman to score 1000 Test runs against India in this innings. 

India took the new ball midway through the last session, and McCullum took it as a signal to attack, launching some sweetly timed cover drives on his way to his ninth Test hundred, which he brought up in style, putting Ishant into the RA Vance stand for six. It was his third Test century of the summer delivered, again, under pressure. 


Watling then brought up his own deserved 50 and the 150-run partnership, shortly before the BLACKCAPS took the lead. By this stage, McCullum was obviously feeling the effects of his long stay at the crease as the shadows lengthened, but both men gutsed it out, seeing out long periods of dot balls to reach the end of the day unbeaten. The Basin crowd gave the pair a warm, long round of applause as they departed the field, knowing they'll be back again tomorrow for a fourth day. You get the feeling there could be stories to unfold at the Basin. 


Day two: BLACKCAPS 24-1 and 192 trail India 438 (Ajinkya Rahane 118, Shikar Dhawan 98, MS Dhoni 68, Tim Southee 3-93) by 222 runs.  

India turned the screws on the BLACKCAPS on day two with a couple of big partnerships and Ajinkya Rahane's maiden Test century. The visitors overtook New Zealand's score then built a lead of their own, finishing 256 runs ahead. In reply, the BLACKCAPS lost Peter Fulton early, and will start day three with a lot of batting to do and nine wickets in hand. 

Ishant Sharma started the day as he did on day one, tormenting the BLACKCAPS. While the bowlers struggled to find their line in the wind, Ishant looked right at home and made 26 runs, including three boundaries, before he was caught by a diving BJ Watling from Trent Boult. 

Brendon McCullum rotated his bowlers through the first session, with Boult, Tim Southee, Corey Anderson and later Neil Wagner and Jimmy Neesham all at the crease. After Southee switched to the RA Vance stand end he removed Shikar Dhawan for 98 when he edged to Watling, who took another fine diving catch. Neesham then took his first Test wicket, getting Rohit Sharma to play on for a duck.


India went to lunch nine in front - and continued their resistance in the afternoon with Virat Kohli and Rahane building a steady partnership in the face of tighter lines and committed fielding from the BLACKCAPS. They continued to find the boundary as McCullum stuck with attacking field settings, but the breakthrough came when Kohli was on 38 - he drove Wagner hard into the off side, only for Hamish Rutherford to scoop a low catch at short cover to the delight of his team-mates. 

MS Dhoni was in no mood to mess around at the start of his innings, stating his intentions with a series of boundaries, including a big four down the ground from Wagner. The BLACKCAPS were able to peg the run rate back somewhat, as all thoughts turned to the new ball. 

Dhoni and Rahane had other ideas - they were able to dig in then counter-attack, building a partnership of over a hundred runs in the warm sunshine with Rahane bringing up his maiden Test hundred. Boult eventually sent Dhoni on his way with a lifting delivery edged to Watling down leg.  

When Zaheer Khan was on seven, Wagner had him caught in the slips, but replays showed he'd put his foot on the return crease, and no ball was the call.


Shortly afterwards Boult took his second Basin stunner of the summer - Rahane skied the ball to the covers, where Boult made a lot of ground to get there, had the ball, then lost the ball, then stuck out a paw to drag it in and bring the crowd of just over 5000 to their feet. 

Wagner then ended the innings with his 50th Test wicket when Zaheer swiped him and Watling collected his fifth catch of the innings - India finished on 438, a lead of 256 over the BLACKCAPS. 

The chase got off to a sticky start when Fulton shouldered arms to a Zaheer delivery that straightened on him in the second over, and he was given LBW for 1. Kane Williamson and Rutherford were able to negotiate their way to the close safely and were still prepared to put away the bad balls. They will resume on four and 18 respectively, aiming to regain more ground on India's 222-run lead. 


Day one: BLACKCAPS 192 (Kane Williamson 47, Jimmy Neesham 33, Ishant Sharma 6-51) lead India 100-2 (Shikar Dhawan 71*) by 92 runs. 

The BLACKCAPS were rolled for 192 on a green Basin Reserve seamer on day one of the second ANZ Test in Wellington. Ishant Sharma's best ever Test figures of 6-51 had the top and middle order in trouble early, with Kane Williamson and Jimmy Neesham able to offer the most resistance.
 
India negotiated the last 26 overs of the day for the loss of two wickets but all eyes will be on the pitch and the overhead conditions in the morning as the BLACKCAPS look to strike back with the ball.  

MS Dhoni won the toss for the seventh (unbelievable) time in a row and was happy to put the BLACKCAPS in to bat. Conditions were not conducive to flowing stoke play, but openers Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton weathered the initial storm, getting behind the ball and Rutherford was confident enough to get on the front foot after the first few overs. 

Rutherford went caught by Murali Vijay at first slip from Ishant Sharma for 12. He was joined in the shed by Fulton shortly afterwards for 13, trapped in front by Ishant for 13. 

The conditions were equally tough for the middle order, with Tom Latham making a duck on his Test debut. Brendon McCullum looked to play himself in, but was undone when he drove uppishly to Ravi Jadeja at mid off, who had no trouble taking the catch. 


Williamson was making survival his primary objective and had a stoke of luck two balls before lunch when he was caught behind and given from Zaheer Khan, but recalled when reviews showed it was from a no-ball. The BLACKCAPS went to lunch shortly afterwards at 51-4 after a tough morning.

Corey Anderson counter-attacked after lunch, hitting a six and a four from Ishant, but was caught soon afterwards by Virat Kohli in the slips for 24. 

After BJ Watling became Ishant's fifth victim, Williamson was given out again, caught at short square leg, but recalled when replays showed the bowler  overstepped.   

Williamson fought back with Neesham, adding 47 runs to take the BLACKCAPS from 86-6 to 133-7. Neesham was prepared to take the attack on, striking a bright 33 from 35 balls, before running a ball off the face to the slips, an untidy end to an assured debut with the bat.

Williamson's luck ran out when he was caught by Rohit Sharma, bowled Shami for 47. His patient spell at the crease while wickets fell around him gave the BLACKCAPS innings some stability. 

Tim Southee batted in typically swashbuckling fashion, hitting Jadeja for two sixes in three balls, before being caught from a leading edge for 32. He was Ishant Sharma's sixth victim, and he finished on 6-51, his best ever Test return.

After losing the final wicket on 192, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner sprinted off, obviously keen to get on the green deck while there was still plenty of life. 

Southee struck in the second over, getting Vijay edging to Watling for two. From there, Shikar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara put together a watchful partnership. Dhwan's 50 came from 71 balls and India were cruising before Trent Boult got one to swing back at Pujara, trapping him lbw for 19. 

Ishant Sharma was unable to get his feet up after a good day's work, coming out as nightwatchman, surviving the day despite the late pressure from the BLACKCAPS eager for another wicket. 

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