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Indian Strategy Baffles McCullum

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Indian Strategy Baffles McCullum

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Wellington, April 6 NZPA - India's strategy to prolong their second innings was telegraphed but it still took New Zealand vice-captain Brendon McCullum by surprise as the weather threatens the final day of the third cricket test here tomorrow.

India's decision to bat 75 minutes of the morning session despite already having a 531-run lead might yet assist New Zealand to escape with a draw as bad light continues to plague the latter stages of the test -- and northerly gales are also forecast.

Opener Gautam Gambhir said last night India's intention was to push their advantage past 600 but they used up 18.1 overs in doing so before Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled the pin at 434 for seven.

The final session was then shortened by 21 overs due to bad light -- offering some salvation to New Zealand who were 167 for four, a massive 450 from victory.

They have to bat three sessions tomorrow to force a draw; Ross Taylor is on 69 and James Franklin 26.

McCullum thought India might have reassessed after it became obvious bad light would limit their overs available in New Zealand's second innings.

"I thought they may have looked to try and give themselves in excess of 80-odd overs today, if it had gone the full duration, to maybe pick up a second new ball late in the day," he said, before admitting India's unbeatable 1-0 lead meant they could do what they liked.

While New Zealand has abandoned all hope of winning the match and squaring the series, McCullum said avoiding a 2-0 margin would still have its merits.

"Obviously we haven't found ourselves in the ideal situation but tomorrow's an opportunity for guys to stand up and show some character."

McCullum was aware of the weather forecast but said his teammates could not afford to rely on rain saving the day.

"You can't pray for rain or you can't expect rain to get you out of a sticky situation.

"If we find ourselves waking up in the morning with a big blue overhead then we've got a fight on our hands and that's something we've got to stand up to -- hopefully can grow in character by getting out of this one."

Yuvraj Singh defended India's tactics.

"We heard it's going to rain (tomorrow) so we wanted to get 600 runs on the board and declare quickly so we could have enough overs to bowl at New Zealand. Hopefully we get some more overs tomorrow."

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