Brendon McCullum is on the threshold of a cricketing milestone and former Kiwi great Martin Crowe is among many urging him to storm into the record books. While Day 5 of the Wellington Test on Tuesday will definitely see New Zealand pressing for a victory against much-fancied India, Basin Reserve will also hope to see the country's first triple centurion in Test cricket.
Already a national hero after his career-best 281 on Monday denied India (Day 4 report), a team in quest of a series-levelling win in the second Test in Wellington, McCullum could become the game's 24th batsman to score a grand triple. Crowe is one hoping that the 32-year-old McCullum reaches the landmark that eluded him 23 years ago at the Basin. Crowe missed the mark by a whisker when he was out for 299 against Sri Lanka in 1991.
Crowe said on Twitter he was "rooting him on" and praised the way McCullum was leading from the front in a record-breaking rearguard in a Test match where India dominated for almost three days. "The critical thing BMac has done in the last two weeks is control his emotions. No big smiles, just sheer focus and determination to keep on," Crowe said.
A clutch of batting records fell by the wayside as New Zealand (571/6), a record against India, took a massive 325-run lead by stumps on Day 4 (Highlights). New Zealand are leading the two-Test series and it is unlikely India will pull one back now. If McCullum was the man behind the resurgence, Bradley-John Watling was not far behind. Watling (124) shared a record sixth-wicket partnership of 352 with McCullum and said milestones didn't drive them throughout an eight-hour stand.
Watling wants the 84-Test wise McCullum to reach his personal landmark. "Everyone is excited and will be watching every ball. Hopefully Baz does it tomorrow."
Following are some statistical highlights of McCullum's innings:
* McCullum (281 not out off 525 balls) posted his third double century in Tests -- all against India. He is the second batsman to register three double hundreds against India - the first being Ricky Ponting - two in 2003-04 and one in 2011-12.
* McCullum is the first New Zealand batsman to post double hundreds in successive Tests - 224 at Auckland and 281 not out at Wellington. His first double hundred was 225 in the 2010-11 Ahmedabad Test. Michael Clarke, Mahela Jayawardene and Zaheer Abbas have each registered two double hundreds against India.
* Stephen Fleming and McCullum share a New Zealand record for most double hundreds (three) in Tests. Fleming had recorded one double hundred each versus South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
* Apart from three double hundreds from McCullum, Graham Dowling, Bert Sutcliffe and Jesse Ryder have registered a double hundred each for New Zealand against India.
* At Basin Reserve, Wellington, seven double hundreds have been recorded in Tests - the highest being Martin Crowe's 299 vs Sri Lanka in January/February 1991. McCullum's innings is the second highest by a New Zealander at this venue. Interestingly, Crowe and McCullum are the only batsmen to have recorded double hundreds as captain at Basin Reserve.
* McCullum's 281 not out is the third highest by a captain against India - the top two innings being England's Graham Gooch - 333 at Lord's in July 1990 and Australia's Michael Clarke's unbeaten 329 at Sydney in January 2012.
* McCullum, with 514 runs at an average of 17.33 is his career-best performance in a Test series. He is the only New Zealand batsman to amass five hundred runs or more in a two-Test series.
* McCullum's aforesaid aggregate is the second highest by a New Zealand batsman against India in a Test series, next only to Bert Sutcliffe - 611 (ave.87.28) in the five-Test series in India in 1955-56.
* McCullum's tally is the second highest by a New Zealand captain in a Test series - the highest being 546 (ave.60.66) in the five-Test series vs South Africa in 1961-62. His aggregate is a record by a captain in a two-Test series in Test annals.
* Overall, six instances have been recorded when a batsman has managed 500 runs or more in a two-Test series.
* McCullum's unbeaten 281 is the fourth highest by a batsman in the second innings of a Test match. Hanif Mohammad is the only one to register a triple hundred in the second innings - 337 vs West Indies at Bridgetown in January 1958.
* McCullum has faced 525 balls - the longest innings in terms of balls faced by a batsman in a Test innings in New Zealand. England's Clive Radley had faced 524 balls to score 158 vs New Zealand at Auckland in March 1978. Martin Crowe had faced 523 balls to post 299 vs Sri Lanka at Wellington in January/February 1991.
* McCullum has batted 727 minutes approximately - the longest by a New Zealand batsman, eclipsing the 704 minutes taken by Glenn Turner during his innings of 259 vs West Indies at Georgetown in April 1972.
* McCullum's innings is the longest taken by a batsman in terms of minutes in New Zealand, bettering Shoaib Mohammad's 720-minute innings to score 163 vs New Zealand at Wellington in February 1989.
(with inputs from Rajesh Kumar)