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We expect India to come hard at us in Wellington: Brendon

Calcutta/Auckland: While Mahendra Singh Dhoni rued that India were unlucky, his counterpart, Brendon McCullum, was a relieved man after the 40-run victory in the first Test. McCullum’s decision of not enforcing the follow-on on India almost backfired as the visitors threatened to chase down the target.

“We thought we had a big total and if we bowl well, that would be enough runs… We know the quality of the Indian batsmen and how they are capable of putting together big scores and big partnerships.

“At one stage, when they were sitting at 220 for two, it took something special to get us out of that. We respect the Indian team a lot for what they have done and where they sit in the world rankings…

“That’s what makes this victory so special. A Test victory over this Indian team is no small achievement,” McCullum said.

“India’s run chase, obviously, was fantastic and they put us under tremendous pressure… In the end, it was a great Test match to be part of.

“We had to see off some tough periods on the first morning… In the second innings, we didn’t bat as well as we should have. Credit to the Indian bowlers for putting us under pressure. We expected India to come hard at us in every game and they certainly have not disappointed,” the New Zealand caption added.

Interestingly, McCullum heaped praise on the Indian team and captain Dhoni. “We know India are a very proud team and well led by MS…

“We know he is a very proud man and he will make sure that they rally together and hit us hard in Wellington. I think we saw that with the way they bowled in the second innings,” he said.

Speaking on his decision of not enforcing the follow-on, McCullum said: “You cannot regret any decision and when you make that decision, you put some thought into it…

“You live and die by the decisions you make. Someone has got to make the decision and I guess that comes down to me. I made the decision and I never regretted it for a moment.”

“There’s no guarantee we would have bowled out India for 100 in their second innings and I said right at the outset that we have got the bowlers to take 20 wickets. I would hate to see us chase 150-200 on the last day on that wicket with Ravindra Jadeja coming in to play.”

McCullum insisted that he always thought 407 was a good enough target. “After we decided not to enforce the follow-on, we hoped to get a little more than hundred in our second innings…

“That’s what we got and I still thought 400-plus was a very good target. There are very few teams in the history of the game who have chased over 400. It was still a lot of runs on the board…

“But the wicket was starting to play pretty well, so it was always going to be a tough ask. We knew that it was going to be a close contest,” he said.

McCullum, meanwhile, rated his double-hundred in the first innings as the best knock he has ever played. “It’s definitely the best innings I have played for New Zealand, now that we have gone on and won the Test match. It was a gripping Test match.

“Whilst we did not ram home the advantage we had in the second innings with the bat, we showed a lot of heart and a lot of character to keep fighting hard and get the result in the end.”

“I had said in the media conference ahead of the match that if we are to win this Test, I probably would have to play the best Test knock of my career…

“And it indeed turned out to be one of my best innings in a New Zealand shirt. I'm delighted to make a significant contribution…

“A lot of credit must go to those who formed partnerships with me,” McCullum added.

McCullum praised Neil Wagner, who took four for 62 in the second innings. “Wagner epitomises everything we want to be known for as a team…

“How aggressive he is, how hostile he is when he has got the ball in hand and how big his heart is…

“He bowled 10 overs into the wind late on day four which is no easy feat and it allowed Tim (Southee) and Trent (Boult) to have some decent downtime leading into that new ball.”


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