Brendon McCullum reaching the 300 and thereby becoming the first New Zealand player to do so was a molecular moment in New Zealand cricket history.
He surpassed Martin Crowe, who is recognised as the best batsman New Zealand has produced and who graciously was egging McCullum on to go past him and become the first Kiwi player to join the triple centurions club.
That there are only 22 players before him who have done it tells you how exclusive that club is, especially considering that Test cricket is being played since 1877. McCullum’s performance not only set records but also gave New Zealand an outside chance of a win.
He must have been tired after his marathon knock, for the declaration came surprisingly late. He is the kind of batsman who is naturally aggressive, and so it was expected that once he had got to his triple century and having seen young Jimmy Neesham get his ton on debut, the Kiwi skipper would declare and give his bowlers two and half sessions to put the scare into India.
There was no way India was going to get 350 plus runs needed at that stage in the overs available, and the extra time could have been used by his bowlers.
In the end, Virat Kohli’s brilliant century showed that McCullum may have been right in not tiring out his bowlers after a long successful home international season.
India had lost three wickets with not too many on the board, and with Rohit Sharma on a pair, anything could have happened. But Sharma settled down to play well, and with Kohli blasting the ball to all corners of the field, there was no further alarm for the Indians.
No praise can be too high for McCullum. When he came in to bat his team were in dire straits, but he curbed his natural attacking instincts and played a waiting game.
He got great support from Watling, who has had an outstanding series behind the stumps, and the duo set up a record sixth wicket partnership on a day when records kept tumbling one after the other. To rub it in, debutant Jimmy Neesham also scored a strokeful century and that made the game safe for New Zealand.
India’s bowlers tried their best but simply did not have that extra that could have got them the breakthrough. That they also missed catches did not help and McCullum had no less than three escapes. The pitch also had flattened considerably and batting had become easier by the minute.
India missed out again, but going in with only three and a half bowlers was never going to help in getting 20 wickets to win a match. That is the perennial problem that India needs to solve if they hope to win overseas.
Professional Management Group