Updated: Tuesday, 18 February 2014 11:35 | By Agence France-Presse

Triple-ton McCullum makes history for New Zealand

Brendon McCullum became New Zealand's first triple-centurion in 84 years of Test cricket Tuesday, uniting the country in praise and putting the hosts on the verge of a famous series win against India. 

Triple-ton McCullum makes history for New Zealand

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum bats during day 5 of the 2nd International Test against India in Wellington on February 18, 2014 - by Marty Melville

The bearded captain, 32, who is carrying multiple injuries, batted for nearly 13 hours for a match-saving 302 which put him in the company of all-time greats Don Bradman and Wally Hammond.

Wellington's Basin Reserve erupted in a standing ovation as McCullum cut Zaheer Khan for four to bring up the triple century, and the applause resumed just two balls later when he was out caught behind.

McCullum's 302 surpassed Martin Crowe's 299 -- compiled at the same ground in 1991 -- to become the highest score by a New Zealander in 391 Tests since 1930.

After his 224 in the first-Test win, it made McCullum just the third man after Australia's Bradman, and England's Hammond in the 1930s, to score double and triple tons in consecutive Tests.

The number five batsman came to the crease before lunch on Sunday, with wickets falling and New Zealand staring at a series-levelling defeat in the second Test.

Seven hundred and fifty-nine minutes later, after facing 559 balls and despite back, leg and shoulder problems, McCullum departed with New Zealand dreaming of an improbable victory.

Along the way, he took part in a world-record, 352 sixth-wicket partnership with BJ Watling and helped New Zealand reach their highest Test score of 680.

And Jimmy Neesham's 137, against an increasingly dispirited Indian attack, was the highest Test debut by a number eight batsman.

McCullum finally fell about 45 minutes into the final day as fans, many of whom took the day off work, were still arriving at the ground in the New Zealand capital.

- 'In a daze' -

Prime Minister John Key was quick to tweet his congratulations, calling it "outstanding", while Ross Taylor, acrimoniously replaced as captain by McCullum in 2012, said it was "amazing".

McCullum headed straight out to field but after play on Monday, he said he was delighted the Black Caps' strategies had gone to plan.

"You set out game plans and you set out strategies and in your head you dream the dreams but you don't always live them," he said, admitting he was "in a bit of a daze" in the hour before stumps.

His father Stu McCullum said he was pleased how his son, once known as a brutal short-form specialist, had been able to adapt to the demands of Test cricket.

"He's changed, possibly, the way he treats the innings in front of him at the time. Obviously the team certainly required him to do that and he's done that the last two Tests. He likes to stand up to a challenge," he said, according to the stuff.co.nz website.

"He has been a dasher and will probably be a dasher in the future again as well. But the situations required him to do what he's done and I'm very pleased the way he's gone about it."

Only 24 cricketers have broken the 300 barrier, four of them twice -- including West Indian Brian Lara, who holds the world record for the highest Test innings of 400. 

The innings may also be seen as further vindication for McCullum, who became captain 16 months ago in controversial circumstances when popular skipper Taylor was dumped. 

New Zealand then went a year without a Test win. But in recent months, McCullum has led them to a 2-0 series victory over the West Indies and they are now 1-0 up against India.

It is only the second time New Zealand have won three consecutive Tests.

Coupled with the 4-0 one-day series win over India, the Black Caps' form will give them a huge boost as they prepare to co-host the World Cup with Australia next year.

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