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BCCI Staff in Mumbai 26 January 2014 - 11:10am IST

McCullum credits India for tie

Kiwi skipper rues missing the win; praises Ashwin, Jadeja for batting

Brendon McCullum’s New Zealand side was on the verge of something very special – an ODI series win against India with two games to spare. In the last 14 overs India required 130-odd runs to win, with all their specialist batsmen back in the hut. What followed was a brilliant rearguard effort from R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, whose respective fifties tied the match.

McCullum, while ruing the missed chance of sealing the series in Auckland, showered praise on the Indian spinners for their batting prowess.
"A great game of cricket. It ebbed and flowed the whole way through that second innings," McCullum said. "Credit to India, when they looked as if they were out of the game, they flexed their muscle a little bit and got themselves back into it. And just when we thought we had it again, obviously they came back. The innings that Jaddu played at the end was pretty awesome.

"We had our chances, there is no doubting that. Definitely had our chances - a few catches and a few run-out opportunities and a few things - but it is a tough one. It was a great game of cricket to be involved in, just disappointing that didn't get the result in the end but a tie is a tie."

The Kiwi captain said his bowlers missed a trick or two in their death bowling, allowing Jadeja to get away. "Our plan was very much to keep the ball out of Jadeja's arc and we obviously got hit for a couple of sixes straight towards the end there. The wicket was pretty slow, so obviously a little bit tough to use that short-ball tactic to the effect that we have so far in this series. When you don't win, you obviously question a couple of things but I still thought we were pretty good without being top draw."

As the match headed to a riveting finish, it was Corey Anderson who was thrust with the responsibility of defending 18 runs in the final over. McCullum said he had complete belief in the young all-rounder.

"It's not always going to work, poor fellow sitting in there at the moment is a bit upset but it's the nature of having those opportunities in the death as well. He again learnt a lot tonight about bowling and seems to me that he is learning quicker than anyone in international cricket about batting and bowling at the moment. We will keep backing him, he did a great job for us today with the ball and gave us the opportunity to win the game and whilst he didn't close it out, I thought he did a really good job and he will learn a lot from it.”

Explaining why he didn’t save Tim Southee for the end, McCullum said, "Obviously Tim is another death bowler for us but at that stage of the game, we were looking for wickets. We knew that if we kept taking wickets then we were going to be in with a pretty good chance of winning the game. Corey is one of our options at the death. So is Tim, Mitch as well. We have used Kane (Williamson) at the death at times as well.

"It's about how the game plays out based on when you need wickets, when you need to push and when you need to hold back. Today we were pushing and hence we went to Southee a little earlier and left Corey at the end. Even Nathan had to bowl pretty deep into the innings, under the circumstances when you are chasing wickets."