Milestone Man McCullum on the Brink of Greatness - The New Indian Express

Milestone Man McCullum on the Brink of Greatness

Published: 17th February 2014 04:13 PM

Last Updated: 17th February 2014 04:39 PM

An exhausted Brendon McCullum stood on the cusp of history on Monday after he had saved the second test against India and set up his side up for a tilt at what would be an astounding victory on the fifth and final day.

The 32-year-old captain ended the fourth day on 281 not out, the second highest individual score by a New Zealand batsman and within sight of Martin Crowe's 299, which was also scored at the Basin Reserve in 1991.

He had also combined with BJ Watling (124) for a world record sixth wicket partnership of 352 and batted the visitors out of the match and series.

New Zealand were 571 for six at the close of play, a lead of 325 runs, and with Jimmy Neesham well set on 67 the pair should resume for at least the first hour on Tuesday to make sure that India cannot win the match and level the series.

While McCullum and Watling took the plaudits for their battling display, having been thrust together after lunch on Sunday with New Zealand 94 for five and in danger of losing the game inside three days, the focus now turns to McCullum's chance to join a select few players.

The instinctively aggressive batsman is just 19 runs away from becoming the first New Zealand player to score a test triple century and with the match virtually safe, odds are that he will at least attempt to get that milestone and then give his bowlers 70-odd overs to try to bowl India out.

"That's what we have to look at," McCullum told Radio Sport when asked if he would continue to bat or declare overnight and give his bowlers a full day to dismiss India.

"We are obviously 1-0 up in the series and have worked really hard to get back into this contest and the decisions we have to look at is if we look to push on for a test win or if we look to consolidate the lead we have got.

"Those are the decisions we have to mull over overnight and they were decisions we didn't have a couple of days ago.

"It is nice to be in that luxury position and have those decisions to make."

While McCullum would not definitively state whether he would continue to bat on the final day, Watling, however, may have let the cat out of the bag about the team's early thinking.

"It's the longest innings by a New Zealander but he's still pretty fresh and he'll come out tomorrow and keep going," Watling told reporters when asked if McCullum was suffering from any effects of his 12 hour six minute vigil so far.

"We'd definitely love to win the test. I still think there's a job to be done in the first hour tomorrow morning and see where we're at.

"It's still a good batting track but I think if conditions are right I think our bowlers could swing it and put them under pressure and try and win a test match."

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