When one decides to stay in the middle, runs generally come as you play yourself in and that is what happened to New Zealand' Bradley-John Watling. The 28-year-old wicketkeeper batsman notched up his third Test hundred on the fourth day of the second Test against India in Wellington on Monday. (Highlights)
Coming in at 94/5 on Day 3, with New Zealand staring at the massive innings defeat, Watling stuck it out with skipper Brendon McCullum as the pair ended the day without further alarms. His marathon effort is by far his best Test performance as his previous two hundreds were against lower-ranked teams like Zimbabwe (102* at Napier on January 26, 2012) and Bangladesh (103 at Chittagong, October 9, 2013). (Scorecard)
Watling has been living under the shadow of McCullum as a wicket-keeper, being the most consistent Kiwi glovesman since the latter gave up keeping in the longest format of the game. In the course of his innings, Watling saw McCullum reach is 9th Test ton and complete 5000 runs in Tests. Watling himself reached his seventh half-century in the latter stages of the third day and completed 1000 runs in Tests.
The fourth day saw Watling continue where he had left off as New Zealand faced the prospect of batting the entire day out. He brought up three figures, an innings that took him 297 deliveries and was punctuated with 12 hits to the fence. Watling also set the Kiwi record overtaking McCullum for the longest period of time batted in a Test innings - over 400 minutes at the crease.
Watling's knock may not be the most strokeful innings, but was laced with enough determination and grit to frustrate the visitors, who were already busy dealing with McCullum who had curbed his natural aggression to play a long innings. With survival being the key for the Kiwis, Watling's innings served the purpose of playing out time and giving an outside chance for hosts to defend their 1-0 lead in the Test series.
Watling's innings finally ended on 124 when Mohammed Shami removed him for 124. That ended a record 352-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Brendon McCullum.