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November 25, 2009
Only 36 overs were possible in Dunedin on a day blighted by rain and bad light but, in that time, New Zealand strengthened their grip on the first Test. Their progress centred around a 164-run stand between Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, and later the wicketkeeper praised his captain's leadership from the front.
"We were in a pretty dicey sort of position at 211 for 6 so to be able to combine in that sort of partnership and get our team through to four sessions [ending at to 404 for 8] was something that we aimed for at the start of the game," McCullum said after a wet day. "To manage to do that was very satisfying. It would have been nice to have gone on and scored a hundred at my home ground but it wasn't to be."
McCullum's innings was cut short by a yorker from Umar Gul in the last over before the lunch break, during a spell the New Zealand wicketkeeper thought was Gul's best of the game. "He certainly had a bit more gas on and managed to get a bit more bounce too," McCullum said.
Gul also returned after the long rain delay to deny Vettori a hundred, inducing an edge to the wicketkeeper when the New Zealand captain was on 99. It would have been Vettori's fifth Test hundred, and a back-to-back one as well at No. 8. During his innings, Vettori also went past Shane Warne's aggregate of 2005 runs to become the most prolific No. 8 in Tests.
"He's [Vettori] happy with the position we're in, and he's obviously happy with the contribution he's made, but he's disappointed to miss out on what would have been a brilliant Test hundred," McCullum said. "He is certainly leading from the front."
Only one ball was bowled after Vettori's dismissal before bad light forced the players off the University Oval but McCullum felt a result was still possible despite losing over three and a half hours of play. "There are still three days to go in the game, and we've got a sizeable first-innings total, so if we bowl well then hopefully we'll give ourselves a real opportunity," he said. "The wicket is pretty good but it certainly does have a little bit in it if you bend your back.
"We've obviously got to strike them pretty early to give ourselves a real strong chance but we've got the bowlers to do it so I think we can."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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