Brendon McCullum became the first New Zealand player to score a triple-hundred © Getty Images
Brendon McCullum stole the show in the second Test between India and New Zealand with a masterful triple century. McCullum broke all sorts of records along the way en route to his 302 in Wellington. Amongst them was a world record 352-run stand with BJ Watling for the sixth wicket as well. Shrikant Shankar goes through the major talking points from the match.
Brendon McCullum breaks innumerable records en route his triple century
History was created on February 18 in New Zealand cricket. Brendon McCullum became the first New Zealand cricketer to score a triple century in Test cricket. He broke the long-standing record of 299 set by Martin Crowe in 1991. There are many facets to McCullum’s monumental innings. First of all, he is an attacking batsman by nature. But he curbed all his natural attacking instincts early on in his innings as New Zealand were in a tight spot. But as the innings went along, he started scoring more freely. He eventually scored 302 off 559 deliveries with 32 fours and four sixes. Secondly, he scored 224 in the first Test as well. Scoring the triple century made him only the sixth player in history to score double centuries and above in consecutive Test matches. He also joined Wally Hammond and Don Bradman as the only three players to score a double ton and a triple ton in consecutive Test matches.
McCullum-Watling partnership breaks world record
Not many would have expected that McCullum and BJ Watling would share a world record stand for the sixth wicket, as New Zealand were 94 for five when it all began. The duo batted under serious pressure early on as the sole objective was to save the match.. They batted for 738 deliveries and added 352 runs, breaking the previous world record set by Mahela Jayawardene and Prasanna Jayawardene, who added 351 runs against India at Ahmedabad in 2009. For most parts in the partnership between McCullum and Watling, they hardly gave any opportunity to the Indian bowlers. Their partnership was crucial in New Zealand’s series win.
Ishant Sharma’s best and worst in the same match
Ishant Sharma produced his best bowling figures in a Test innings of six for 51. This happened in New Zealand’s first innings where they were bowled out for 192. But ironically, he also produced his worst figures in a Test innings in the same match. In New Zealand’s second innings, Ishant’s figures were none for 164. However, it isn’t surprising that it was Ishant who managed to achieve such a feat. He has faced constant ridicule throughout his career, but he was the best bowler overall in the series. One consolation he can take is that he finished as the leading wicket-taker in the series with 15 wickets. But he spoilt his name a bit by what seemed like a few expletives sent in the direction of Zaheer Khan, who was sluggish while fielding a delivery bowled by Ishant.
Dropped catches of McCullum cost India?
McCullum scored 302 runs, but it could have been either nine or 36. Virat Kohli dropped him the first time at short mid-on and then Ishant dropped him of his own bowling. This cannot be taken as a definitive proof that New Zealand would have lost the Test match, but India would have had a far greater chance of winning. India certainly lost that chance to level the two-match series.
James Neesham makes remarkable debut
New Zealand came into the Test match without spinner Ish Sodhi and handed a debut to bowling all-rounder James Neesham. While he picked up only one wicket in the match, Neesham impressed with the bat. He scored a quick 33 off 35 deliveries in the first innings with seven fours. He then followed that with an unbeaten 137 off 154 deliveries with 20 fours. He was involved in a 179-run partnership with McCullum for the seventh wicket as well. Neesham was hardly troubled by the tired Indian bowlers and scored freely. His innings certainly pushed the match and series away from India’s hands.
Ajinkya Rahane shows he belongs to play Test cricket
Ajinkya Rahane scored his maiden Test century in India’s first innings. He was composed yet scored quickly. Rahane’s celebrations when he brought up the century also were sedate and calm. He scored 118 runs off 158 deliveries with 17 fours and one six. His innings was a treat to the eyes and he played some textbook strokes that are currently not in abundance in cricket. Rahane too was touted as a promising batsman and is now showing what he can do for India. His innings of 96 against South Africa at Durban tells he can get the big scores in Tests, and that too in overseas conditions.
Virat Kohli rides his luck to save India’s blushes
Virat Kohli would not have been too happy with his scores in the first three innings of the two-match Test series. His scores of four, 67 and 38 do not live up to the high standards that he set for himself. But he came good when India were in a bit of trouble in the second innings of the second Test. India had lost three wickets for only 54 runs chasing an improbable 435-run target. There were at least 30 overs remaining and a late batting collapse could have been on the cards. In fact, Kohli was a little lucky as well. He edged a delivery from Trent Boult to Watling behind the wickets, but the umpire said not out. But some of the shots he played after that were a delight to watch. He remained unbeaten on 105 off 135 deliveries with 15 fours and one six. In the end the match was drawn, but Kohli ensured that India do not slip any further.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)