2nd Test India vs NZ: McCullum raises stock as Test batsman

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Wellington
  • Updated: Feb 17, 2014 02:45 IST
  • Mohammed Shami bowls during day 3 of the 2nd Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AFP Photo)

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Mohammed Shami bowls during day 3 of the 2nd Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AFP Photo)

  • Mohammed Shami celebrates the wicket of New Zealand

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Mohammed Shami celebrates the wicket of New Zealand's Tom Latham during the second innings on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (Reuters...

  • Zaheer Khan (C) high fives MS Dhoni after the latter took the catch to dismiss New Zealand’s Hamish Rutherford for 35 on the third day of the second Test at Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AP Photo)

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Zaheer Khan (C) high fives MS Dhoni after the latter took the catch to dismiss New Zealand’s Hamish Rutherford for 35 on the third day of the second Test at Basin Reserve...

  • Zaheer Khan (C) celebrates the wicket of New Zealand

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Zaheer Khan (C) celebrates the wicket of New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford during the second inning on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington....

  • Ishant Sharma bowls during the second innings on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (Reuters Photo)

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Ishant Sharma bowls during the second innings on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (Reuters Photo)

  • Cheteshwar Pujara (R) stops a shot from New Zealand

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Cheteshwar Pujara (R) stops a shot from New Zealand's Brendon McCullum (L) during the second innings on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington....

  • New Zealand

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    New Zealand's BJ Watling plays a shot during the second innings on day three of the second Test against India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (Reuters Photo)

  • Brendon McCullum celebrates his 100 against India during the second innings on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (Reuters Photo)

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Brendon McCullum celebrates his 100 against India during the second innings on day three of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (Reuters Photo)

  • Brendon McCullum hits a six during day 3 of the 2nd Test against India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AFP Photo)

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    Brendon McCullum hits a six during day 3 of the 2nd Test against India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AFP Photo)

  • BJ Watling of New Zealand celebrates his 50 runs during day 3 of the 2nd Test against India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AFP Photo)

    India vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 3

    BJ Watling of New Zealand celebrates his 50 runs during day 3 of the 2nd Test against India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AFP Photo)

When New Zealand rolled out a green top for the second Test, it indicated Brendon McCullum’s attacking captaincy. Though the chances of the Kiwi pacers dominating India’s strong batting line-up on such a surface were bright, the hosts didn’t really have to try. They needed only a draw to seal the Test series and end the home season on a high.

But that decision fitted well with the image of McCullum the batsman too. Indian fans would best remember the tattooed warrior who smashed a match-winning 158 in the inaugural Indian Premier League match in 2008.

Having ended an almost four-year spell without a Test century against West Indies at home and then piled up 224 against India in Auckland, there was every reason the in-form batsman would look to push the game forward.

But with his team in serious trouble, the 32-year-old grinding out an unbeaten century could prove to be one of the most defining innings by a Kiwi batsman. It can pull the hosts to a position of strength from near certain defeat.

For McCullum, the steady trickle of runs than a torrent, in nearly six hours braving right hand cramp and a left shoulder problem on Sunday, will go to establishing himself as the premier batsman in the side.

Significantly, it came with Ross Taylor absent – his wife gave birth to a boy early on Sunday and there were Twitter jokes requesting him bat in the second innings. McCullum replacing Taylor as skipper had caused tension between the two.

India gave him two lives but he curbed his aggression when MS Dhoni left the off-side field open to tempt him. Batting coach Bob Carter said the knock had raised his stock as a Test batsman. “Brendon has really shown his defensive game has come forward. He is growing in stature as a Test player.”

He needed attention from the physio, but Carter had an interesting take. “The funny side of it is that Brendon had a little bit of a shoulder injury from shining the ball yesterday! He was trying to get it to swing a lot as well as trying to get it changed a lot. And then he was joking today that his bottom hand was playing up. I prefer it to be his top hand actually.”

McCullum acknowledged the demands of captaincy. “As captain that is what you have got to try and achieve. You are not always going to, but you have got to try and work your game to the situation,” he said.

“If we had been rolled over in this Test, it would have been slightly disappointing after how successful the summer's been. That is the beauty of winning consistently and not finding yourself in too many of these situations. When you do find yourself in them, it seems a bit easy to get out of it.”

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