Few would doubt Brendon McCullum’s ability with the bat. After all, he produced a whirlwind 158 in the very opening game of the Indian Premier League, long before Chris Gayle burst onto the scene; he was also the second man after the Jamaican to notch up a century in Twenty20 internationals.
Coming in for Otago Volts at the fall of Neil Broom off the second ball of the chase, McCullum played an effortless knock to give his side victory in the opening Champions League Twenty20 qualifiers. The win will help shake off the underdog tag Volts carry for being the only team from outside the subcontinent in the qualifiers.
He made his intentions clear early, carting Faisalabad Wolves pacer Asad Ali for consecutive fours. And for the rest of his match-winning 83 not out, McCullum grafted and looked for quick singles, attacking only when the opportunity was offered.
But a target of 140 was never going to test a side boasting of as many as four Kiwis internationals.
McCullum chose his moments with precision and singled out Asad Ali. He hit him for a six and a four, taking 14 off him in the 15th over. Again in the 16th over, McCullum took 12 runs of the bowler to set up an easy win, with 13 balls to spare.
Misbah knock in vain
As Misbah-ul Haq stepped on the PCA turf, the memory of Pakistan’s heartbreak World Cup semifinal loss to India in 2011 must have come back to him.
Misbah had played a lone hand in that failed chase. The Wolves had faced testing times coming into the tournament, including the visa trouble after landing.
Having joined the team straight from Zimbabwe, he was again the best batsman by a distance, scoring a quickfire 46 (34 balls) as others crumbled around him. The innings never took off once Ian Butler accounted for both the openers, Ammar Mahmood and Ali Waqas, in quick succession.
James McMillan and James Neesham also exploited the favourable conditions on a green pitch to the hilt, striking at regular intervals to keep the final score to manageable proportions.