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‘Winning consistently makes fighting pressure a bit easier’

Wellington: An exhausted Brendon McCullum looked wearily back at the Basin Reserve wicket. The New Zealand captain had just slowly trudged off the field at the end of the third day of the second Test here on Sunday, against India. He is batting on 114, and has thwarted the visitors’ push for a series-levelling victory on Sunday.

Battling a shoulder injury and a dodgy back, McCullum combined with wicketkeeper BJ Watling (52) in an yet unbroken 158-run partnership to guide the hosts to 252/5, taking a lead of five runs, after they had slumped to 94/5 in their second innings and faced the possibility of an early end to their season.

“To be honest, we would probably need a double century to keep us in this game,” McCullum said, as he contemplated the match situation following his ninth Test century.

“If BJ and I can emulate what we did on Sunday again on Monday, then by the night it will be great to be able to make some decisions about where the game will go rather than trying to fight out of it.”

McCullum scored a double century in the first Test at Eden Park, that New Zealnd won by 40 runs. He has now scored three centuries during New Zealand’s international season at home.

His batting resurgence, along with the tremendous form shown by Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, has allowed New Zealand to set the tempo of the game from the beginning against the West Indies and India this summer.

New Zealand’s ability to make a big score in their first innings has then allowed McCullum the licence to attack the opposition, through his pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.

The hosts, however, have been on the back foot at the Basin Reserve from the second India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni won his seventh successive toss and asked them to bat on the green wicket.

McCullum has said previously that he felt the team has been showing grit and determination in the last 12 months despite results not going their way, which was something the New Zealand public could identify with and admire.

“If we had rolled over in this Test match it would have been slightly disappointing given how successful our summer has been,” McCullum said in reference to the 2-0 Test series victory over the West Indies last December and the 4-0 thrashing of India in their one-day series before the Tests.

“Winning consistently makes fighting pressure a bit easier. It’s a good start for us but we know that we have so much more hard work to do on Monday.”