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McCullum 224 guides New Zealand to 503, India slump to 45-3 on day 2, 1st test

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - India's Rohit Sharma made a composed half century to guide the visitors out of early trouble and finish day two of the first test at 130-4 in reply to New Zealand's 503.

Sharma was 67 not out and Ajinkya Rahane 23 not out when bad light at Eden Park ended play 19 overs early. Their partnership steered India to a respectable score after slumping to 10-3 early in its innings.

Earlier, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum posted his second double century in tests and was its last man out for 224 — one run short of his career best which was also scored against India.

"Being asked to bat and being in a tricky situation, to post 500 and to get some early wickets was an outstanding position to be in," McCullum said.

"To make a sizeable contribution is nice. I haven't always done it so to do it in a pressure situation is pleasing."

McCullum's innings and his partnerships of 221 with Kane Williamson (113) and 133 with Corey Anderson (77) put New Zealand in a commanding position by the end of the first day, and they continued on Friday morning, putting on 144 runs in just 24 overs in the opening session.

Only Ishant Sharma, who took 6-134, managed to bowl effectively in supportive conditions.

India then lost its top order — Shikhar Dhawan (0), Cheteshwar Pujara (1) and Virat Kohli (1) — in the space of 34 balls.

Trent Boult struck a double blow in his opening over, removing Dhawan and Pujara to catches behind the wicket. Dhawan played too early at a delivery which took a leading edge and flew low to Williamson in the gully while Pujara, in a rare error of judgement, flung the bat at a ball wide of off-stump and feathered a catch to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Tim Southee confounded Kohli with a ball which reared, kissed a glove, hit his helmet and flew to slip.

At 10-3 India was in desperate straits but Sharma managed to slow then halt the decline, putting on 41 for the fourth wicket with Murali Vijay (26), then 79 in an unbroken stand with Rahane before stumps.

Their repair work was important, but more is required on Saturday as India requires a further 173 runs to avoid the follow-on.

McCullum batted superbly, aggressively for almost eight hours to put his team in a position from which defeat is almost inconceivable.

With characteristic flair, he reached his double century with a six and four in the last over before lunch, passing 200 with a boundary from the last ball of the session which was also the 28th four of his innings, laced with three sixes.

McCullum seemed bound to pass the 225 he scored at Hyderabad in 2010, but he fell to a brilliant catch on the boundary by Ravindra Jadeja off Ishant Sharma.

Jadeja showed athleticism and skill to keep in play a ball which seemed headed for six. He grasped the ball, tossed it in the air just before he over-balanced over the boundary rope, then stepped back into play to complete the catch. McCullum's score was still the highest by a New Zealand batsman in a test on Eden Park.

Anderson seemed bound for a century but was given out lbw to Ishant Sharma from a ball which appeared to be missing the stumps down leg side. The Decision Review System is not being used in this series at India's insistence.

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