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Weathered the storm, says Watling

New Zealand’s BJ Watling congratulates captain Brendon McCullum, who appears to be overwhelmed on reaching his double century, in Wellington, on Monday. The hosts were struggling at 94 for five before McCullum and Watling joined hands and stitched a record sixth-wicket partnership of 352 runs to rescue the side. McCullum remained unbeaten on 281 at stumps on the fourth day of the second and final Test against India. Watling was out for 124. This was McCullum’s third double hundred in Tests. (AFP)

Wellington: New Zealand batsman BJ Watling, whose world record sixth-wicket partnership with captain Brendon McCullum, gave the home team a crucial advantage in the second Test against India, said he feels proud of the effort as the visiting bowlers put him through a “storm”.

Watling and McCullum put together a 352-run sixth-wicket stand that gave New Zealand a commanding 325-run lead over India. Watling scored his third Test century, 124 runs, while his partner was unbeaten on 281 going into the last day of the series.

“I am definitely very proud of the way we went about things… I think Brendon batted extremely well again and to be in the position we are now after two days ago, we are pretty pleased with how things went,” Watling said on Monday.

“It was just a grind… We just took each ball at a time, each over at a time, each hour at a time. They came at us hard and we sort of weathered the storm and then got a few runs away and just kept trying to take them as deep as we could. To lose one wicket throughout this fourth day is a pretty pleasing effort,” he added.

Indeed, he was the only batsman dismissed on day four, but did enough damage to Indian hopes of equalling the series after their 40-run loss in Auckland. Watling came in at 94/5 and put on the record stand to defy the Indian hopes.

“At five for 90-odd, you are feeling the pressure a bit. They are bowling well and taking wickets, so it’s again just trying to get through there and try and create a partnership and try and take it deep. On Sunday, it was pretty much about batting through the day, and try to fight our way back into the game,” he said.

“The first hour was crucial… If we managed to not lose a wicket there, we felt we could kick on and try and keep going. Each session that started was just about starting again and keeping the partnership going and get as many runs and take as much time out of the game as possible.

“I guess after 150-odd overs in the field, their heads dropped and that tends to happen. We just managed to weather the storm there and come out at the other end,” Watling added.

The focus shown by the two batsmen was the highlight of their partnership. They never made any mistakes and only McCullum gave half-chances, while Watling never really did that either.

“Brendon was pretty focussed throughout the day. He has obviously got a few niggles and to have a long innings, it’s the longest innings by a New Zealander. We weren’t really thinking about records… The announcer told us a few times what was going on out there. But you are just batting, trying to bat each ball and take each ball on its merit. There’s definitely a lot to be done,” he said, praising his partner.

“But it is pleasing to get a hundred. Each time you win a Test match, that is a pretty special feeling… So yes, I think those probably rank pretty high as well,” he added.

Speaking on the pitch, Watling said: “It is still a good pitch and it is pretty flat. There isn’t too much turn out there and the bounce is pretty consistent. I think a couple deliveries might have stayed down or a couple might have jumped a little bit but nothing too extreme. We will see overnight and have a plan for the final day.”