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McCullum shines as NZ build on lead

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Published: Monday, November 15, 2010, 17:22 [IST]
 
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McCullum shines as NZ build on lead

After tea, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill pressed on. But just one shy of their 50-run partnership, Pragyan Ojha got Guptill caught behind for 18. India had been struggling to wrest back the initiative and this wicket came as a sigh of relief. But it was short-lived for McCullum continued with his innings as though nothing had happened. He cut Harbhajan in front of square for four runs to bring up his century, an innings that the Kiwis badly needed in the context of the game.

The new man at the crease, Ross Taylor didn't last too long as Sreesanth got him out bowled in the 61st over for just 7. New Zealand were 187/3 with Jesse Ryder the new batsman. Together with McCullum, he took 11 runs off Sreesanth in the 63rd over to bring up New Zealand's 200. Ryder wasn't able to stick around for too long though, and was out for 20 when Raina got him caught behind. Then Kane Williamson joined forces with McCullum to play out the rest of the day, taking New Zealand to 237/4 at stumps, with a useful lead of 115.

The day began with Harbhajan and Sreesanth adding to India's overnight lead of 86. Harbhajan skipped down the wicket to loft Vettori for a six and moved onto 97. A couple of overs later, he ran a single to reach his second century in Tests and his second in successive innings. He then biffed Southee for another six over wide long on. But Sreesanth eventually ran out of steam, getting trapped plumb in front by Vettori for 24. Nevertheless, India had amassed an impressive lead of 122 runs.

New Zealand's openers - Tim McIntosh and Brendon McCullum - began their side's second innings in confident fashion. McIntosh edged Zaheer Khan for two consecutive fours in the first over itself and in the next, McCullum sent Sreesanth for a boundary. Zaheer pulled out of the 9th over and left the field over what appeared to be a strain. Ojha bowled the resultant baby over and Bhajji was introduced in the next. The batting pair took New Zealand to 37/0 at Lunch.

After the break, McIntosh and McCullum resumed business in the same confident tone, with McCullum sizzling. He hit Bhajji for a six in the 18th over and by the end of the 22nd, the openers had erased half of India's 122 run lead. In the next over, Ojha came in for some stick when McCullum launched him for an almighty six followed by a boundary. A few overs later, McIntosh got stuck into Ojha, taking him for 10 runs including one huge six over long on.

In the 30th over, New Zealand had moved past the 100 run mark. A couple of overs later, McCullum went after Harbhajan, taking 9 runs off him including one straight six. Shortly afterwards, he hit a four off Sreesanth to put his side ahead of India with the score at 125/0 in 35 overs. That was when Ojha got the breakthrough, getting McIntosh caught at short leg for 49. Guptill joined McCullum in the middle and the two played out the last few overs before Tea, taking New Zealand's second innings total to 131/1 in 40 overs with a lead of 9.

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