WELLINGTON - A dogged 158-run stand by century-maker Brendon McCullum and B.J. Watling kept New Zealand alive in the second Test against India on Sunday, although the odds still favour the tourists. After New Zealand looked on the ropes at 94-5, McCullum and Watling ensured India will have to bat again as they wiped out the 246-run first innings deficit to reach 252-5 at stumps on the third day.

McCullum, who brought up his ninth Test century with a powerful six off Ishant Sharma, was on 114 with Watling on 52. However, despite their heroic partnership, New Zealand will likely need to bat through the fourth day, with only a brittle tail to come, if they are to deny India a series-levelling victory. "Being five down was key for us. If we had been six or seven down I think the Test was over," McCullum said. "To be honest, we would probably need a double century to keep us in this game. If BJ and I can emulate what we did today tomorrow, then tomorrow night it will be great to be able to make some decisions about where the game will go rather than trying to fight out of it." It has been an impressive innings by McCullum who became only the fifth New Zealander to pass 5,000 Test runs.

Despite his reputation as a punishing batsman, he showed that when the chips are down he can graft away for the good of the team. He faced 146 deliveries to bring up his 50, reaching the milestone sweeping Jadeja to the square leg boundary, before upping the pace to cover the second 50 in only 54 balls. As the score mounted, India were left to rue lost chances when McCullum was dropped on nine by Virat Kohli at short mid-on, and then at 36 when Ishant Sharma put down a caught and bowled opportunity.

At the other end Watling proved the ideal companion as the pair posted a record sixth-wicket partnership for New Zealand against India, eclipsing the 137 set by Chris Cairns and Craig McMillan in 1998. Watling, who brought up his seventh half century, has faced 208 deliveries for his patient 52. India, looking for their first win on tour after losing the first Test by 40 runs and being beaten in the one-day series 4-0, won a crucial toss to roll New Zealand for 192 on a green wicket in the first innings. They replied with an impressive 438 for a 246-run lead, which New Zealand struggled to reel in until McCullum and Watling mounted their rearguard action. After resuming Sunday on 24-1, New Zealand lost three wickets before lunch -- two to Zaheer Khan who had figures of 3-60. Kane Williamson was caught behind for seven and Hamish Rutherford was also caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 35 as New Zealand slipped to 52-3.

Debutant Tom Latham, who made a duck in the first innings, looked more assured the second time around -- until he reached 29, when he prodded at a wide Mohammed Shami delivery and was caught behind. Corey Anderson went for two shortly after lunch, caught and bowled by Ravindra Jadeja, before McCullum and Watling batted through more than 61 overs and weathered the new ball to get New Zealand through to stumps.





(OVERNIGHT: 24-1):

P Fulton lbw Khan    1

H Rutherford c Dhoni b Khan    35

K Williamson c Dhoni b Khan    7

T Latham c Dhoni b Shami    29

B McCullum not out    114

C Anderson c & b Jadeja    2

B Watling not out    52

EXTRAS: (b2, lb6, nb4)    12

TOTAL: (5 wkts; 99 overs)    252

FOW: 1-1, 2-27, 3-52, 4-87, 5-94

BOWLING: I Sharma 23-3-63-0, Khan 25-8-60-3, M Shami 25-4-72-1, Jadeja 26-6-49-1

TOSS: India

UMPIRES: Steve Davis (AUS), Richard Kettleborough (ENG)

TV UMPIRE: Derek Walker (NZL)

MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)