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Abhishek Purohit in Wellington
February 17, 2014
Drops cost India dear
Brendon McCullum has said that New Zealand will decide overnight whether they will push for a 2-0 series win on the final day of the Wellington Test or settle for 1-0. McCullum was unbeaten on 281 as New Zealand ended the fourth day at 571 for 6, leading India by 325 runs. McCullum has an opportunity to become the first New Zealand batsman to score a triple century, but was unwilling to commit to the side batting on the final morning.
"Obviously we are 1-0 up in the series," McCullum said. "We have worked really hard to get back into this contest, so that is one decision we have to look at, whether we try and push on for a Test win or we look to consolidate the lead that we have got knowing how far out of the game we were.
"Those are the decisions we have to mull over tonight. The decisions were not in our court a couple of days ago. It is nice to be able to be in that luxury position to make those decisions, and to know that you have worked incredibly hard to get into that situation to give you that luxury of making those decisions.
"I cannot assure you on that (batting tomorrow) yet. Whatever we decide, we will make sure we give it a 100%."
BJ Watling, McCullum's partner in their record-breaking 352-run, sixth-wicket stand, suggested the side's decision to bat on the final day would depend on conditions on Tuesday morning.
"[It's] still a good pitch and I think it is pretty flat," Watling said. "Off the straight there is not too much turn out there and the bounce is pretty consistent. I think a couple might have stayed down, a couple might have jumped a little bit but nothing too extreme.
"We would definitely love to win the Test but we still think there is a job to be done in the first hour tomorrow morning and see where we are at. It's still a good batting track but I think if the conditions are right, our bowlers could come out there and swing it and try and put them under a bit of pressure and possibly try and win a Test match."
McCullum was pleased with the day New Zealand had, after they began effectively at 6 for 5 and added 319 runs for the sole loss of Watling. He said: "We set our game plans and our strategies, and you dream the dreams and you don't always live them. Today, BJ and myself were able to put ourselves in a very good position, and the way Jimmy Neesham came in and created that partnership. At the end of the day, we are incredibly pleased with where we are at."
McCullum was also happy with the way his partners, Watling and Neesham, went about their batting. Watling ground out a defiant hundred while Neesham stroked an unbeaten 67 to extend New Zealand's advantage.
"I am really pleased with BJ, as well. We know how much of a scrapper and how hard a worker he is," McCullum said. "He has got that real resilient streak about him. [It takes a] special kind of pluck to stand up and do what he did in this Test match, and bat as long as he did for us to able to create that partnership and pick up some accolades along the way as well. [I'm] delighted for BJ and also with Neesh for the way he started. It has been a good day for us."
When asked about his own physical condition, having batted more than 12 hours with a sore back and shoulder, McCullum admitted he was feeling exhausted, particularly in the final hour.
"I am a little bit tired actually, to be honest. The last hour was a bit of a daze," the New Zealand captain said. "I was just trying to get through and thankfully Neesh was playing some shots and ticking the scoreboard over. So thought I'd just hang in there. I guess I was trying to make sure you get through the day knowing you have earned the right, to get through the day after the pressure we have had to absorb. I am pretty tired at the moment. Body is a little bit sore, but when you are scoring runs, your body does not hurt so much."
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