Brendon McCullum became the first New Zealander to score a Test triple-century while India's Virat Kohli also reached three figures before the second and final Test in Wellington was drawn.
India finished at 166 for three in 51 overs in their second innings after being set an unlikely 435 to win; the draw handing New Zealand the series 1-0 after their 40-run win in Auckland.
The Black Caps won the five-match ODI series 4-0 to send MS Dhoni’s men empty-handed from this tour.
Kohli reached the mark in the 49th over of the innings, off 129 balls, inclusive of 15 fours and a six. He made good use of the life he was given in the 13th over in the post-lunch session, when umpire Steve Davis had failed to judge an edge off Trent Boult. He was on 23 then.
Giving him company at the other end was Rohit Sharma, not out on 31 runs (97 balls, four fours), as the two put on an unbeaten 112-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Earlier in the session, India were struggling to hold station after the hosts had declared their second innings at 680 for eight (210 overs) with an overall lead of 434 runs. Starting at 10 without loss after the break, India had the simple task of batting out two sessions to save the Test. But they botched it up, in keeping with the story of this tour, wherein they are haven’t managed to win a single game.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan (2) and Murali Vijay (7) were dismissed soon after resumption of play. The former was out in the very first over after lunch, padding up to Boult (1-47) as the delivery hit the top of his pads.
The latter went in the very next over, caught at third slip by Corey Anderson, edging off Tim Southee (2-50). He added another to his wicket-tally, breaking the 44-run third-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara (17) and Virat Kohli.
Pujara was strangled down the leg-side as a sharp bouncer took his glove on its way to keeper BJ Watling, bringing an end to a disappointing tour for him.
Kohli, meanwhile, was lucky to survive at the other end after the umpire’s mistake. Neil Wagner (0-38), James Neesham (0-25) and Corey Anderson (0-6) were the other bowlers deployed.
Earlier, in the morning session, McCullum struck Zaheer Khan for a four in front of third man to reach his triple-hundred in the 200th over of the Black Caps’ second innings.
McCullum’s 302 runs overtook Martin Crowe’s 299 scored against Sri Lanka, also at the same ground, in 1991 as the highest individual Test score by a New Zealand batsman. It was also the third-highest innings by a number five batsman in Test cricket after Michael Clarke’s 329 not out against India in 2012 and Sir Don Bradman’s 304 against England in 1934.
His effort is also the second-highest individual score in the second innings after Hanif Mohammad’s 337 against West Indies in 1958. Overall he is the 24th Test batsman to hit a triple-hundred, while this is the 28th instance of a triple-hundred being scored.
McCullum started this final day of the Indian tour on 281, needing another 19 runs to get to that magical landmark. At the other end was debutant James Neesham as they started from the overnight score of 571 for six under overcast skies.
It didn’t matter much as the latter cut loose almost immediately, while McCullum was more subdued as he bided his time.
Neesham struck six lusty boundaries early into the day’s play and reached his maiden Test hundred in the 199th over of the innings, facing 124 balls and hitting 15 fours. But the focus was on what was happening at the other end and indeed in the next over, McCullum joined that exclusive 300-run club.
The entire stadium erupted and was on its feet soaking in this moment. He didn’t last long thereafter though, edging behind off Zaheer, facing 559 balls and hitting 32 fours as well as four sixes. He had been batting since the morning session of day three in what was a marathon innings.
Two overs later, Zaheer completed his five-wicket haul, as Tim Southee (11) was caught off a skier, but there weren’t any celebrations. It was the first time in his 92-Test career that he had bowled 50 overs in a single innings.
New Zealand didn’t declare as anticipated and carried on for a while longer, even as India put on their part-timers. In the end, the Black Caps reached their highest Test innings total overtaking their effort of 671 for four against Sri Lanka in 1991, also at Wellington.
Neesham stayed unbeaten on 137, the highest individual score by a batsman on debut batting lower than number seven, beating Azhar Mahmood’s 128 not out against South Africa in 1997. It was also the highest runs scored by a New Zealand batsman on debut, beating Scott Styris’ 107 runs versus West Indies in 2002.
For India, Zaheer was the highest wicket-taker in the innings with a haul of five for 170. Mohammad Shami (2-149) and Ravindra Jadeja (1-115) also picked up wickets, while Ishant Sharma (0-164) saw the other side of the coin after picking his career-best figures in the first innings.
Rohit Sharma (0-40), Virat Kohli (0-13), MS Dhoni (0-5) and Shikhar Dhawan (0-3) also sent down some overs in this innings.
On day one, Ishant's best Test figures of six for 51 bowled New Zealand out for a paltry 192 runs. Then, on day two, Ajinkya Rahane (118) struck his maiden Test hundred to take India to 438 in their first innings, a lead of 246 runs.
On day three, needing 247 runs to make India bat again, New Zealand were reeling at 94 for five before the partnership between McCullum and Watling rescued them. On day four, McCullum and Watling (124) put up a record sixth-wicket partnership of 352 runs to help New Zealand convert the 246-run deficit to a 325-run lead at stumps.
© Cricket World 2014