Wellington, Feb 16: India continued to enjoy the upperhand in the second and final Test against New Zealand despite a fighting unbeaten century from home team captain Brendon McCullum, who led a spirited fightback on an absorbing third day, here today.
McCullum pulled the team out of early trouble and made full use of two reprieves to battle his way to 114 not out off 237 balls and together with BJ Watling, who scored an equally important 52 off 208 balls, led a brilliant fightback to keep New Zealand afloat.
McCullum, who was dropped twice early on in his knock, and Watling stitched unbroken 158 runs for the sixth wicket to guide New Zealand to 252 for five in 99 overs at stumps on the third day after they lost their five wickets for just 94 runs.
The pitch on offer today at the Basin Reserve was a far cry from the juicy green surface of the first day and was a perfect platform for New Zealand to wipe out the huge deficit after India made 438 in their first innings in reply to the hosts' 192.
But the start of the day was far from rosy for the Black Caps as veteran pacer Zaheer Khan inflicted early damage by removing two wickets in the opening session to reduce New Zealand to 87 for four at lunch.
The post-lunch session too started on a precarious note for New Zealand as they lost Corey Anderson (2)cheaply before McCullum and Watling joined hands to bail them out and ensured that India will have to come out to bat again in their second innings.
But with two full day's play remaining and New Zealand leading India by just six runs with five wickets in hand, the visitors will still fancy their chances to level the series after the hosts won the first Test by 40 runs at Auckland.