CT IPL Flashback: Brendon McCullum sets the league on fire with a blistering 158

CT IPL Flashback: Brendon McCullum sets the league on fire with a blistering 158

Brendon McCullum 158
Brendon McCullum KKR (Photo Source: Google)

Cricket in India took a dramatic turn when the young Indian side led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought the T20 glory home in the year 2007 and that too without the presence of the veterans like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. The country started believing that the newest format of the game was there to stay, something they had hardly had any experience of before the tournament.

The cricket board identified the significance of T20 cricket and a cash-rich tournament named Indian Premier League was announced. It was for the first time that the teams were sold to franchisees and 8 teams from different parts of the country were introduced to compete. From supporting the national team, fans were divided to cheer for the cities. Players were auctioned for the first time in the game and their skills in the format defined their worth.

Teams were built, foreign coaches were called in, cheerleaders were in the ground, icon players were identified, everything was commercialized and several other things happened that the world had never seen before in the game of cricket. Bollywood stars elevated its stature in a grand opening ceremony. There was absolute chaos even before the start of the league and cricket was yet to start.

The inception of IPL saga

April 18th, 2008 was the date and M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore was the venue that marked the start of the prestigious tournament. Royal Challengers Bangalore played hosts to Kolkata Knight Riders in the first game and the two legends Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were up against each other, representing their respective sides. RCB won the inaugural toss and invited the visitors to have a bat first.

Donning black jersey and golden helmet of KKR, the skipper Ganguly walked out to bat with the explosive batsman from New Zealand, Brendon McCullum. Praveen Kumar bowled the first ball of IPL. Initially, Ganguly found it tough adapting to the format but an experienced McCullum was on it right from the outset as he flicked a length delivery from Zaheer Khan over mid-wicket that brought the crowd to its feet.

The score cruised past fifty within no time and the tournament had gotten off to a flying start. Ganguly departed after scoring 10 off 12 balls when the score read 61/1 in just 5.2 overs. Zaheer Khan became the first wicket-taker when he got the left-hander out caught by Jacques Kallis. Australia’s then captain Ricky Ponting came out to bat at his familiar number 3 slot and was up and running with a six and a four off Kallis that kept the momentum going.

The thunderous assault

McCullum was unflustered by what was happening at the other end and was punishing each bowler that came into the attack. There was no mercy shown on even the experienced bowlers like Zaheer and Kallis. He brought up his half-century in the 9th over off just 32 balls smacking 5 fours and 3 sixes. The innings had already lit up the stadium but the best was yet to come.

The Australian leg-spinner Cameron White was handed over the responsibility to bowl but when other masters failed against him, how was a rookie going to survive? The Kiwi took him to cleaners in the 15th over and smashed colossal sixes that brought him closer to three-figures. Very next over, he drove a full toss off Ashley Noffke to get to his hundred off 52 balls. From fifty to a hundred, he took 20 only balls. Meanwhile, Ponting had departed for 20 off as many balls but the carnage from McCullum was never ending.

There was more to come

First ever game and a ton straight away would have made for a wonderful story, but the right-hander did not settle for that. The outburst did not end, there was more, much more to follow. Lap shot, pull shot, heave over square leg, straight hit over the bowler’s head, there was every shot that a T20 cricket book would consist of. He reached his 150 and finished unbeaten on 158 off 73 balls with 13 sixes and 10 fours and the team score reached a humongous 222 at the end of 20 overs.

The fact that his contribution to the ultimate score was 71 percent just goes to show the magnitude of the effort. The other four batsmen scored 10, 20, 12 and 5 and extras contributed 17 to the total. All the bowlers received hammering and no one was reprieved. RCB were blown away with the scoreboard pressure and were bowled out for 82 runs handing KKR a win by 140 runs.

Why the innings was so important

Before the start of the league, everyone was looking forward to the new concept and no one was sure of what to expect from such a tournament. McCullum innings couldn’t have come at a better time. The whole cricketing fraternity was watching with interest and they couldn’t have been treated with anything better. ‘Well begun is half done’ and that’s exactly what he did.

Post the innings, people knew that IPL had arrived in world cricket and one that would stay for a long-long time. It really set the tone for the remainder of the league and brought crowds to the grounds as well as to the televisions. It ensured that the viewership for IPL would remain good for the seasons to follow. There have been several marvellous innings since in the league, but none would ever match the perfectly-timed elegance of McCullum’s.