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Brash Brendon puts faith in basic instinct

He has got off to his best start in the IPL since the inaugural edition but has also departed playing risky shots when he could have scored more. Such is Brendon McCullum - brash, brutal but effective when it matters. Somshuvra Laha reports. McCullum's starts in the IPL

cricket Updated: Apr 18, 2011 01:56 IST
Somshuvra Laha

He has got off to his best start in the IPL since the inaugural edition but has also departed playing risky shots when he could have scored more. Such is Brendon McCullum - brash, brutal but effective when it matters.

Billed as a batsman who could change the game on its head by the Kolkata Knight Riders three years ago, this New Zealand opener lived up to the hype by setting off the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League to a rousing start, plundering 158 off just 73 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore. But over the three years he had spent with Knight Riders, McCullum failed to reproduce that effort, scoring just four fifties.

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This year, McCullum came to Kochi Tuskers for $ 475,000 (about R2.1 crore) after taking a huge pay cut. But surely he didn't let that affect the way he goes about making statement of intent. That intent was visible when McCullum charged down to cart Zaheer Khan over the infield in Kochi's first match against Bangalore Royal Challengers. Along with VVS Laxman, McCullum went on to make 45 and took a heavy toll on the bowlers.

After posting a famous victory over Mumbai Indians on Friday, Kochi Tuskers skipper Mahela Jayawardene said he knew 183 was 'chaseable if they batted sensibly and Brendon played brilliantly'.

Tackling Malinga
Ask Lasith Malinga - the IPL's highest wicket ticker - to confirm McCullum's brilliance. The Sri Lanka fast bowler's deadly accuracy went for a toss when McCullum decided to take the attack to him by scoring three boundaries in four balls in his second over. Along with Jayawardene, McCullum scored 81 off 60 balls to post a 128-run opening stand till Malinga finally cleaned him up when the Kiwi batsman tried to attempt a scoop.

McCullum departed in similar fashion even in the first match against Bangalore, scooping the ball to Dirk Nannes at short third man. Asked if he would continue playing the scoop shot, McCullum was prompt in answering in the affirmative. "Want to be third time lucky," laughed McCullum even as Jayawardene, seated beside him, continued to stare at him inquisitively during the press conference on Sunday.

The Kiwi batsman also insisted he is comfortable playing instinctively. "This is the way I play, always instinctively. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn't," McCullum had said after the victory against Mumbai Indians.

Kochi will hope and pray it comes off more frequently.