McCullum was the hero of the Wellington roller-coaster but Kohli and Sharma save India

brandon mccallum

Brendon McCullum – triple century

By Kersi Meher-Homji

The Wellington Test between New Zealand and India which ended yesterday was a swinging sensation.

India looked certain to win before lunch on day-4.

Then thanks to New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum’s magnificent century which he converted into a double century and presto into a triple hundred, the hosts were sniffing a victory at stumps on day-4 which had looked impossible a day ago.

The match swung like a yo-yo.

No praise can be too high for McCullum, no adjectives adequate to evaluate his innings which converted a certain defeat to almost an incredible victory.

Sent in to bat by India’s captain MS Dhoni, the home team was shot out for 192, the tall, long-haired Ishant Sharma grabbing 6 for 51.

India led by 246 after amassing 438, thanks to Shikhar Dhawan’s 98 and Ajinkya Rahane’s 118. Rahane not only resembles Rahul Dravid in looks and manners but also in stroke-play and temperament.

A confident India then dismissed five Kiwi bats for 94. They trailed by 152 runs with only Brendon McCullum remaining among recognised batsmen.

A hopeless scenario for the Kiwis for sure!

It would have been worse had India’s Rohit Kohli caught McCullum when he was 9.

What a miss, what a game changer!

McCullum added a magical 352 runs for the fifth wicket with Bradley-John Watling (124) and 179 for the sixth wicket with debutant Jimmy Neesham (137 not out).

McCullum went on to become the first New Zealander to hit a Test triple ton. And his runs came when New Zealand needed them badly. The cheers were deafening as he reached one milestone after another.

It was poignant to watch his Dad wait anxiously for Brendon’s memorable innings from the pavilion and his ecstasy when he did climb the mountain peak.

The Man of the Match McCullum had batted gloriously for 775 minutes and faced 559 balls for his 302, hitting 32 fours and four sixes as NZ recovered from 5 for 94 to a total past 600.

He became only the third batsman after the legendary Don Bradman and Wally Hammond to hit a double century and a triple century in successive Tests. Brendon had made a winning 224 in the Auckland Test against India a week ago.

My one criticism for Brendon was that he declared the innings too late. He gave his bowlers only about 77 overs to dismiss India to win the Test.

He appeared satisfied with his triple hundred and his country winning the series 1-0 rather than going boldly for a 2-0 whitewash.

Had he declared earlier, he would have had about 20 more overs to dismiss disheartened and tired Indian batsmen.

Needing an impossible 435 to win in 77 overs India lost 2 for 10 and 3 for 54 before Virat Kohli (105 not out) and Rohit Sharma (unbeaten on 31) took them to safety.

virat kohli

Virat Kohli saved India

But Kohli was lucky not to be given out early in his innings.

An earlier declaration would have put extra pressure on the Indian bats as NZ bowled with fire.

After four and half days of topsy-turvy cricket, the end came as an anti-climax.

This was New Zealand’s first series win against India since 2002-03.

But in my opinion, McCullum should have declared earlier to try to win the Test and grab the series 2-0, even sacrificing his triple pleasure.

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