Watling an able lieutenant to captain MCullum

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014
McCullum the man
McCullum becomes the first New Zealander to score a Test Match triple century.
BJ Watling
Getty Images
HARD GRIND: BJ Watling celebrates his century.

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When BJ Watling walked onto the Basin Reserve at 94-5, just after lunch on Sunday, pure survival and nudging the second test into a fourth day were his only thoughts.

He'd been removed for a four-ball duck on day one by a snorter from Indian paceman Ishant Sharma and the home side were on the rack after trailing by 246 on the first innings.

Last night New Zealand's wicketkeeper, not prone to outlandish statements or flashy displays of emotion, sat behind a table under the RA Vance stand with a hint of a satisfied grin.

Playing just his 21st test, Watling became part of history as his third test century helped his captain Brendon McCullum add a world record 352 for the sixth wicket and put New Zealand close to an unbeatable, and potentially winning, position from nowhere.

"It was just a grind. We just took each ball at a time, each over at a time, each hour at a time," Watling said of their stand which spanned 12 minutes short of nine hours, and 123 overs.

"They came at us hard and we weathered the storm and then got a few runs away and just kept trying to take them as deep as we could."

The pair resumed yesterday on 252-5, leading by six runs. Watling never offered a chance in his 124 off 367 balls and after he and McCullum negotiated the first hour, they felt they could go big.

"We had a couple of little chats. But we talked about staying in the moment really and taking the next over. MS [Dhoni] came on to bowl there at the end, that's niggly to say the least, but it was just about seeing each over off and trying to get to that new ball and keep building that lead."

It said much for Watling's determination and single-mindedness that he swished his bat angrily then thumped it into the turf after being dismissed lbw by Mohammed Shami from the second delivery with the third new ball.

Needless to say, the whole team will be anxiously watching from the players' balcony when McCullum resumes today on 281 not out and in sight of becoming the first New Zealander to reach 300 in a test.

"Everyone is excited and watching every ball and trying to get as many runs as we can, and hopefully Baz does it [today]."

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