McCullum runs amok

Brendon McCullum’s innings did make acclaimed greats such as skipper Sourav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting mere bystanders. K. C. Vijaya Kumar reports.

It was a night of extravaganza. The Opening Ceremony of the inaugural DLF Indian Premier League, along with the blitzkrieg from Brendon McCullum, ensured that April 18, 2008 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore would remain a significant signpost in cricketing history.

As the clock struck 8 p.m. and the fans were still in awe of the just concluded launch function, Kolkata Knight Riders openers — skipper Sourav Ganguly and New Zealander Brendon McCullum — walked in after Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Rahul Dravid opted to bowl.

McCullum struggled against Praveen Kumar in the first over. But against Zaheer Khan, he was in a belligerent mood, hitting the bowler for 4, 4, 6 and 4 in sequence. It was a spicy appetiser to his unbeaten 158 (73 b, 10x4,13x6), the highest ever in Twenty20 history.

This innings also proved to be the cornerstone for Kolkata Knight Riders’ thumping 140-run victory over the home side.

Knight Riders posted 222 for three in 20 overs and in reply Royal Challengers mustered only 82 in 15.1 overs.

Ishant Sharma slipped one through as Dravid played all over. Jacques Kallis hoisted Agarkar into the pavilion tier but succumbed to the next delivery, a flat batted pull going straight to Murali Kartik. The rest just caved in while trying to ‘rush things’ as Dravid said later.

Though Ishant breathed fire and gave hints on why he is rated so high, it was his team-mate McCullum who was the toast of the day.

Man of the Match McCullum admitted to a touch of nerves while the perception was that the rival bowlers had a nervous breakdown! “The crowds, the fact that I was playing with and against some great players did make me nervous but I also wanted to prove that I belonged,” McCullum said.

McCullum’s innings — a mix of powerful forearms used to good effect and feet that were planted firm on the accelerator – did make acclaimed greats such as skipper Sourav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting mere bystanders.

And as the ball kept clattering the billboards besides testing the catching ability of fans in the stands, McCullum’s pyrotechnics bruised all the bowlers, though Zaheer Khan’s second spell offered some relief to the team.

Ashley Noffke’s first over went for 22, Cameron White’s first cost 24 and though McCullum reached his century with a brace off Noffke, he later sidestepped and did a Marillier scoop off Jacques Kallis.

And all Dravid could say later in the night was, “it was a brilliant innings and you do look a bit silly when the ball flies over your head.”

THE SCORES Kolkata Knight Riders: Fall of wickets: 1-61, 2-112, 3-174.

Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Praveen 4-0-38-0; Zaheer 4-0-38-1; Noffke 4-0-40-1; Kallis 4-0-48-1; Joshi 3-0-26-0, White 1-0-24-0.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: R. Dravid b Ishant 2; W. Jaffer c Ponting b Dinda 6; V. Kohli b Dinda 1; J. Kallis c M. Kartik b Agarkar 8; C. White c Saha b Agarkar 6; M. Boucher c Kartik b Ganguly 7; B. Akhil c Ponting b Agarkar 0; A. Noffke (run out) 9; Praveen (not out) 18; Zaheer b Ganguly 3; S. Joshi c McCullum b Shukla 3; Extras: (lb-8, w-11) 19; Total: (in 15.1 overs) 82.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-9, 3-24, 4-24, 5-38, 6-38, 7-43, 8-57, 9-70.

Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Dinda 3-0-9-2; Ishant 3-0-7-1; Agarkar 4-0-25-3; Ganguly 4-0-21-2; Shukla 1.1-0-12-1.