2014-02-17 09:01 AM
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Captain Brendon McCullum and wicketkeeper BJ Watling continued their marathon sixth-wicket partnership Monday as New Zealand fought its way back into the second test against India, moving to 347-5 at lunch on the fourth day for an overall lead of 101.
McCullum was 169 not out at the break after playing the longest innings of his test career in terms of balls faced, while Watling was on 90.
The pair came together shortly after lunch Sunday when New Zealand was 94-5 and battling to avoid an innings defeat after India had reached 428 in reply to the home side's 192 for a 246-run first-innings lead.
By lunch Monday, the pair had toiled together for 6 hours, 20 minutes adding 253 runs - the second-highest sixth-wicket partnership in New Zealand's test history.
McCullum had batted for 473 minutes by lunch in the second-longest innings of his career. He batted 543 minutes for his 225 against India at Hyderabad in Nov. 2010 and 462 minutes for 224 in the first innings of the first test of the current series.
New Zealand won the first test at Eden Park by 40 runs to lead the two-match series 1-0 and was facing a defeat that would have squared the series when McCullum and Watling came together on the third day.
The home side is still a long way from being immune to defeat with five sessions remaining in the match but, with a 101 run lead and five wickets still remaining, the first glimmer of hope has begun to emerge.
Both McCullum and Watling batted with immense patience and concentration. The pair largely shelved their scoring shots on the third day, concentrating first on stemming New Zealand's inexorable drift toward defeat, then investing all of their mental and physical resources in a battle to stay together at stumps.
They survived the arrival of the second new ball and were nearly physically spent when they guided New Zealand to stumps last night, after 99 overs, at 252-5.
The pair enabled New Zealand to erase India's first innings lead in the 94th over and, when they resumed Monday, each run scored was a run in New Zealand's bank as it began to think about turning pressure on India.
McCullum and Watling added 95 runs in 28 overs in the morning session at a respectable run rate of 3.5. McCullum, who had resumed at 114, reached 150 in 432 minutes from 303 balls with 18 fours and a six. He brought up his century with the six on Sunday -- the third time in his test career he has posted a century with a six.
Watling grafted for 380 minutes and 276 balls for his 90 runs by lunch. The former opening batsman turned wicketkeeper is approaching his third test century after surpassing 50 wicketkeeping dismissals during India's first innings.
Although none of the Indian bowlers had success before lunch, they continued to bowl an exacting line and length. Zaheer Khan had 3-96 at the break.