A double century from skipper Brendon McCullum and triple strikes by the Kiwi pacers left India struggling at tea on the second day of the first cricket Test at the Eden Park Friday. India limped to the tea break at 45 for three in the first innings with opener Murali Vijay batting on 22 and Rohit Sharma 16.
India trail New Zealand by 458 runs and need another 259 runs to avoid the ignominy of a follow-on.
After McCullum’s 224 took New Zealand to a massive 503 all out, the new ball pacers made sure that they tighten the noose around the tourists. During a heavily overcast afternoon, New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Tim Southee rocked the Indian top order.
Left-arm pacer Boult struck twice in his first over. First he squared up left-hander Shikhar Dhawan, who edged to Kane Williamson at gully and then picked up Cheteshwar Pujara in the third ball with gloveman Brian Watling taking an easy catch.
Southee removed Virat Kohli (4) in a controversial fashion when he cracked a bouncer that hit the batsman’s helmet before flying to Peter Fulton at second slip. Kohli pointed to his helmet and looked shocked at umpire Richard Kettleborough’s decision. But tv replays showed that the ball touched the thumb of his glove.
India were reduced to 10 for three in the sixth over, before Vijay and Sharma took the team to tea without further loss.
Earlier, a record double ton by McCullum took New Zealand to a mammoth first innings total. McCullum’s 224 was the highest Test score by a Kiwi batsman at the Eden Park. The Kiwi skipper and alongwith Corey Anderson (77) stitched a valuable 133-run stand for the fifth wicket that took the hosts to a comfortable position.
McCullum, who was on 143 overnight, reached his second Test double-century off the final ball before lunch to etch his name into the record books. He struck left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for a six over long to move to 198 and raised his double ton by slog-sweeping him for a four through square leg. It was a chanceless innings by the New Zealand captain and he was congratulated by the Indian team.
He took 462 minutes and 307 deliveries to score 224 that was studded with 29 fours and five sixes.
McCullum also passed Ian Smith’s New Zealand record Test innings at Eden Park of 173, against India in 1990. The skipper struck the equal ninth-highest test knock by a New Zealander.
McCullum fell one short of his highest and was the last man out with Jadeja taking a juggling boundary catch. His highest Test score, 225, was against the visitors in Hyderabad in 2010.
He joined Walter Hammond, Daryll Cullinan, Javed Miandad, Keith Fletcher and Gordon Greenidge, who have scored double-centuries at the ground. It was also McCullum’s second double century against India.