Wellington: Heaping praise on Brendon McCullum and B J Watling for their spirited batting in the ongoing third Test against India, New Zealand's assistant coach Bob Carter on Sunday, said their effort has given the home team "a lot of heart" to fight the tough battle of survival in the match.
The Kiwis are still far from safety but they have wiped off the 246-run first innings deficit and taken a slender six-run lead.
Carter praised McCullum (114 not out) and Watling (52 not out) for their performances on day three, wherein they put on 158 runs for the sixth wicket to defy the visitors.
"After the first hour or so, the mood wasn't good. But with the wonderful partnership between BJ and the captain, it has given us a lot of heart to take into tomorrow," he said.
"The key for us was to have a partnership. We were really struggling in the morning. This was a real test of us today and tomorrow is the same - test of our batting to see whether we can put a score on the board in order to put India under pressure.
"They are a fine team, they are going to come out and bowl well again tomorrow. We know we have got a challenge on our hands, and it is something we are really looking forward to," he added.
In the morning session, New Zealand were reduced to 87/4 at one stage and then lost a further wicket in the post-lunch session, but McCullum and Watling resisted the disciplined Indian bowling after tea, to take the match into a fourth day.
"Brendon has now combined a lot of his game with defence. Today was a tough day of Test cricket. They didn't give us anything and they bowled well since they bowled in the second innings in Auckland. They bowled very well in this game. Brendon has really shown his defensive game is to come forward."
"And as well as he still likes to attack. Going from 94 to 100 with a six certainly caught me by surprise. I think he is growing in stature as a Test player and I would like to see him play a lot more," said Carter.
"In the first innings, you saw again how well India bowled. We did well to get 192 in the end. They came at us hard today. No one was really playing loosely, they earned their wickets well. It was a great day of Test cricket," he added.
Carter said he wants his batsmen to carry on for at least two more sessions.
"I would like to bat for another two sessions or more. Effectively we have now got that little lead. We need to build partnerships and we have got five wickets left. If we can get a few more out of this one, it will be fantastic.
"Both are established batsmen. We know that India will come hard at us tomorrow, as the ball is only 20 overs old or so. It will be another battle and hopefully we can reach that again," he said.
"The wicket is perhaps the best time to bat now than it has been for the whole game and hopefully we can build on that. If we can build on that and we have five wickets to go, partnerships are our key and making sure we keep our score ticking over. We can't get to a stage where we are not scoring runs," he said.