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McCullum praises Wagner effort in Test win

AAP
Sunday, February 09, 2014

Update: 7:51PM Skipper Brendon McCullum heaped praise on teammate Neil Wagner after the seamer played a pivotal role in New Zealand's nail-biting win over India in a gripping first cricket Test.

Chasing 407 for victory in Auckland, the tourists looked well set at 222-2 during the middle session on day four, with opener Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli having put on 126.

McCullum admitted he thought the Black Caps were "starting to get behind the eight ball" at that stage, although they were not yet out of touch.

"I felt we still weren't that far away," he said.

"If we just got a couple of wickets leading into the new ball, I still felt confident we would be OK."

Wagner, who bowled with plenty of energy, obliged by removing both Dhawan and Kohli to get the Black Caps' fight-back started.

The third seamer behind Trent Boult and Tim Southee, Wagner also took the wicket of skipper MS Dhoni to put victory well within New Zealand's grasp.

"He epitomises everything we want to be known for as a team: how aggressive he is, how hostile he is with ball in hand and how big his heart is," McCullum said.

"He bowled a 10-over spell in the wind late on day four and it's no easy feat. It allowed Trent and Tim to have some decent down time as well."

The classy Kohli, who had been pushing the scoring along, went for 67, falling to a catch behind the wicket.

Dhawan followed in similar fashion for 115, his second Test century.

With tea approaching, New Zealand took the second new ball and had instant success.

Boult trapped Ajinkya Rahane leg before, although replays showed the ball hitting bat before pad.

Southee followed up by dismissing Rohit Sharma with the first ball after tea.

But a match of twists and turns swung again when Ravindra Jadeja joined Dhoni and the pair went on the offensive, smashing 54 runs in 34 balls.

Having got to 26, Jadeja attempted another big hit and holed out at mid-on.

Dhoni's dismissal for 39 left India still needing 45 runs with their last pair in the middle.

When Ishant Sharma edged a Boult delivery for BJ Watling's sixth catch of the innings, it brought up a couple of milestones for the wicketkeeper: it was the most dismissals by a keeper in the fourth innings of a Test, and it was also Watling's ninth catch of the match, the most by a New Zealand gloveman in a Test.

Dhoni came away with mixed emotions from the Test, which followed India's 4-0 loss in the one-day series.

He felt the Indian attack had been below par in conceding 503 runs in New Zealand's first innings.

But their performance in dismissing the Black Caps for 105 in the second innings was one of the best he had seen from his side in the past two to three years.

"We have been in a good position in this match and in the ODIs as well," he said.

"But we've not really been able to capitalise on the really good positions that we've had."

The second and final Test begins in Wellington on Friday.





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