By Shrikant Shankar
Feb 18, 2014
India have entered lunch on Day Five at 10 for no loss in the second Test against New Zealand. They were set an improbable 435-run target after New Zealand declared their second innings at 680/6. Brendon McCullum scored a magnificent triple century for New Zealand earlier in the day. Murali Vijay is batting on seven and Shikhar Dhawan is on two.
Earlier in the day, McCullum scored 302 while James Neesham was unbeaten on 137 on debut in New Zealand’s second innings. Zaheer Khan picked up five wickets in the innings for India. Ishant Sharma went wicket-less and gave away 164 runs in the second innings. Statistically, these were Ishant’s worst figures in a Test innings. Ironically, he had taken his best figures of six for 51 in the first innings. Many records were broken in New Zealand’s second innings.
McCullum become the first New Zealand player to score a triple century in Test cricket. Neesham became the 10th New Zealand player to score a century in Test cricket. New Zealand also went onto post their highest-ever total in a Test innings.
The day began with New Zealand at 571 for six. McCullum was batting on 281 and Neesham was on 67. Neesham scored the first four of the day with a lofted on-drive to a length delivery from Ishant Sharma. Neesham then scored another four to a length delivery from Zaheer Khan towards long-on.
McCullum got his first four with a flick towards mid-wicket off Ishant. McCullum then pulled a short delivery from Zaheer over wide mid-on for a four. Neesham then played a brilliant cover drive for a four to a length delivery from Ishant. With that, New Zealand crossed the 600-run mark.
Ishant then found the outside edge off McCullum’s bat, but the ball fell just short of MS Dhoni behind the wickets. Zaheer then found the edge of Neesham’s bat twice and on both occasions the ball went for a four through third-man.
McCullum then rocked back on his back-foot and pulled a back of a length delivery for a four behind square on the leg side. Ishant then bowled a bouncer and Neesham hooked that over the deep backward square-leg fielder for a four. He then got two runs towards deep mid-wicket and reached his century.
Neesham became the 10th New Zealand player to score a century on Test debut. Soon after, the moment everyone were waiting for arrived.
McCullum was on 298 when he played a late cut for a four to brake Martin Crowe‘s New Zealand record of 299. He raised his bat and acknowledged the appreciation of everyone at the Basin reserve. This was the 28th occasion a triple century was scored in Test cricket.
But two deliveries later, he edged a back of a length delivery from Zaheer to Dhoni. He got a standing ovation from everyone present as he left the field.
Tim Southee was the next to fall, but not before scoring 11 runs off nine deliveries with two fours. He skied a length delivery from Zaheer and Cheteshwar Pujara took a good catch at short gully. That got Zaheer his fifth wicket in the innings. This was Zaheer’s 11th five-wicket haul in Test cricket. He also bowled 50 overs in the innings, making it the first time he has done so in Test cricket.
Neesham, though, did not stop the scoring as he hit one from Zaheer through mid-wicket and through third-man for fours. New Zealand had taken their lead over 400 runs. Neesham then played a back-foot square drive for a four. He then flicked a full delivery from Mohammed Shami for a four through mid-wicket.
Shami then bowled a short delivery and Neesham hooked it for a four towards fine-leg. Ravindra Jadeja then struck Neil Wagner on the pads and the Indians appealed for what looked like a clear LBW decision, but the umpire said not out. McCullum then declared the innings, setting India an improbable target to chase.
The Indian openers then came out to bat and were unbeaten till lunch.
New Zealand 192 (Kane Williamson 47, James Neesham 33, Tim Southee 32; Ishant Sharma 6 for 51, Mohammed Shami 4 for 70) & 680 for 8 (Brendon McCullum 302, BJ Watling 124, James Neesham 137*; Zaheer Khan 5 for 170) lead India 438 (Shikhar Dhawan 98, Ajinkya Rahane 118, MS Dhoni 68; Trent Boult 3 for 99, Tim Southee 3 for 93) & 10 for no loss (Murali Vijay 7*) by 424 runs.
(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)
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