Wellington, Feb 16: India were on course for a rare Test win overseas despite a valiant effort from New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum and B.J. Watling on Day Three of the second and final match of the series here Sunday.
New Zealand stared at an innings defeat after losing half their side for 94. McCullum (114) who was dropped twice, scripted the turnaround alongside Watling (52), sharing an unbeaten 158-run stand to end at 252 for five and six runs ahead of India.
The visitors remain in a good position to level the series, thanks to the 246-run lead they gained after amassing 438 in response to New Zealand’s 192 in the first innings.
India managed four wickets throughout the day amid unusual sunny skies at the Basin Reserve, on a pitch where the odd ball is still doing tricks.
The bowlers kept the run flow under check but missed some wicket taking opportunities.
McCullum would have been back in the hut on 9 had Virat Kohli plucked on to a sharp catch at silly mid-on. The dangerous McCullum was given another life on 36 when Ishant Sharma dropped a return catch on his follow through.
As expected, the New Zealand captain made India pay for their lapses by scoring his ninth Test hundred and second in as many games.
McCullum also achieved a personal milestone while fighting it out for his team, becoming the fourth batsman from his country to cross the 5,000-run mark in the longest format of cricket. The others are Stephen Fleming, Martin Crowe and John Wright.
The usually attacking batsman played cautiously in the earlier part of his marathon knock and changed gears after gaining confidence in Watling, who was solid in his 208-ball vigil.
McCullum was back to dealing in boundaries as he neared his hundred and finally got there with a huge six over long on.
Earlier, Corey Anderson was the only batsman dismissed in the afternoon session that ended with New Zealand at 146 for five.
Lunch was called with the dismissal of Tom Latham (29), making it 87 for four.
New Zealand could only add 63 runs in 25.1 overs at the loss of three wickets after resuming at an overnight 24 for one.
The visitors removed Kane Williamson (7) in the second over of the day, Zaheer Khan getting the in-form batsman caught behind.
Hamish Rutherford (35) departed edging another one to Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Zaheer.
Latham failed to convert another start, giving Dhoni his third catch of the day off Mohammed Shami.