April 18, 2008: Brendon McCullum’s heroics script the epilogue for a beautiful IPL story
Baz kept growing in stature and RCB was brought down on its knees to submission.
Published - Apr 18, 2020 4:57 pm | Updated - Apr 18, 2020 4:57 pm
Back then, T20 cricket was a newborn baby, learning to crawl its way on to its feet. The IPL, on the other hand, was a foetus in a mother’s womb, waiting to see the first crack of dawn. The excitement reached its zenith, chances of it being stillborn was lurking around as well. But then, a certain Brendon McCullum carved an epiphany that put to rest any sort of doubts surrounding the event.
Remember Sheldon Cooper, from the American sitcom Young Sheldon, played by Iain Armitage? For the wonderkid brainiac, it was Texas where he grew up to later become a dextrous physicist. For the IPL, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium scripted the prologue of a book that is among the best-sellers even after 12 years. McCullum’s knock in the inaugural game marked the beginning of something special.
McCullum- the marauder rises
The focus wasn’t expected to be on the Otago-born since the Kolkata Knight Riders had some of the most prominent names in limited-overs cricket. Sourav Ganguly, Bengal’s heartthrob and KKR’s icon-player, took first strike and though he didn’t get off the mark, got his side going with a leg-bye off the first ball. After a subdued first over, Baz gave a glimpse of what was to unfold from there onwards.
The Kiwi peppered the leg-side boundary and took 18 runs in the second, giving Zaheer Khan a warm welcome. The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s bowlers, throughout the entire innings, saw the ball, being dismissed out of sight. Even after the field was spread out, McCullum milked the bowlers with sheer ease. At the other end, Ganguly, Ricky Ponting and David Hussey were mere spectators.
Barring the Black Cap, the rest of the batters managed 47 runs at a run-a-ball. Every other bowler was carted for at least a couple of sixes, showing the damage the New Zealander did. Rahul Dravid’s RCB was shell-shocked as McCullum ended with 158* off 73, taking the Knights to 222. The Challengers couldn’t recover from the trauma and got shot out for 82, losing the game by 140 runs in Bangalore.
The IPL races along
A one-sided affair wasn’t expected to be an apt advertisement for the IPL, the future of which was still filled with uncertainty. However, the entertainment Baz provided on the day remains to be a spectacle in the pages of the T20 tournament. The Knight Riders failed to qualify for the top four eventually, but had already garnered a weighty fan base after what Brendon McCullum showed in the opener.
It was the then highest individual T20 score after he got past Cameron White’s 141. Shah Rukh Khan, the KKR owner, waving tirelessly from the stands, added more glitz to the razzmatazz. ‘Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo’ became more than a mere theme song. In 2013, though Chris Gayle’s 66-ball 175 against the Pune Warriors overhauled Baz’s ginormous numbers, the latter’s knock is far from being forgotten.
It’s 2020, and the IPL has been a witness to plenty of ups and downs. From match-fixing, controversial dismissals to game-changing umpiring goof-ups, the road hasn’t been smooth. But just as how Sheldon overcame his long-standing fright of choking, dogs and birds, even the T20 mega event has conquered many fears. The newborn baby has now grown into a world-beater, sky being the limit.