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Controlled aggression

cricket Updated: Mar 14, 2011 02:18 IST
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Brendon McCullum describes himself as "brash". That reflects in his batting, too. He's lethal when he gets going, but, more often than not, the attacking wicket-keeper batsman has been guilty of throwing it away.

On Sunday, however, he demonstrated the caution and restraint required for a top-order batsman to lay down the foundation from where the final assault could be launched. He hit a patient century, by his standards (101 of 107 balls), helping the New Zealand post a massive 358 against Canada, of which 166 came in the last 12 overs.

Taylor began the onslaught with four sixes and one boundary off Harvir Baidwan, and James Franklin (31 off 8 balls) struck three sixes and two fours in the final over that yielded 31 runs. Canada captain Ashish Bagai (84) played through pain and cramps to score his maiden half-century against a Test playing nation. He added 125 runs for the fourth wicket with Jimmy Hansra (70 no) to give some respectability to the run chase but the 359-run target proved way beyond their reach.

The controlled aggression of McCullum would give jitters to opposition captains who would have to make fresh plans to tackle him in the business end of the tournament.

The highlight of the McCullum innings was how he paced it. He started cautiously, giving due respect to the bowlers. The first signs of aggression came when he sent medium pacer Baidwan over long-off in the eight over, and then hit three boundaries off Henry Osinde to reach a half-century, only his third against a Test playing nation in over an year.

Unlike two earlier occasions where McCullum threw it away after reaching a half-century, the 29-year-old looked prepared to knuckle down this time around. He did hit a reverse sweep off John Davison and an inside-out six off Balaji Rao, but these were calculated strokes.

The approach took him to third ODI century, and he acknowledged that clear role assigned to every player was making a difference. "We know if our top-order provides the foundation, we have players like Ross Taylor, Franklin, Jacob Oram and others who can take the game away from the opposition in the last few overs," he said. As for his knock, he admitted he was pleased to score a century after having missed out on so many in his decade-long career.

Bizarre run-out
John Davison is known for his 67-ball hundred against the West Indies in the 2003 World Cup. From now onwards, the Canadian would also be remembered for a bizarre run-out. On Sunday, he tried to glance a yorker past Brendon McCullum. After strolling half way down the wicket, he, inexplicably, began walking.

McCullum, who had fumbled in the first attempt to collect the ball, recovered quickly to throw down the wickets, with Davison yet to touch down his bat.

Cheema reprimanded
Canada fast bowler Rizwan Cheema has received an official reprimand for bowling two "dangerous" deliveries. He was found gulity of conduct "contrary to the spirit of the game."