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Kiwi sets night on fire in royal mismatch

Even as Shah Rukh and his entourage danced on the sidelines, his team's Brendon McCullum launched T20 cricket's most devastating onslaught ever, reports G Krishnan.

cricket Updated: Apr 19, 2008 02:29 IST
G Krishnan

It was korbo, jeetbo re (sans any lorbo) all the way in a thrilling opener to the Indian Premier League. Even as a deliriously happy Shah Rukh Khan and his entourage danced on the sidelines, his Kolkata team's Brendon McCullum launched T20 cricket's most devastating onslaught ever.

The Bangalore team watched shell-shocked as an unlimited supply of rockets from McCullum's blade upstaged the magnificent display of fireworks that lit up the skies during the opening ceremony earlier in the evening. The Kiwi stayed unbeaten on 158 off only 73 balls at an unbelievable strike rate of 216.43 as Kolkata, invited by Bangalore skipper Rahul Dravid to take first strike, raced to 222 for three in 20 overs.

Outplayed

The 20-minute break was obviously not enough for the home team to recover, because batsman after Bangalore batsman simply walked out zombie-like and then quickly walked back in as Bangalore collapsed in spectacular fashion to a 140-run loss.

Mc the Man's mental disintegration job had left them with no answer! It was quite an incredible knock from the Kiwi. Whatever he touched turned to gold, much like the golden helmet and pads that formed part of the Kolkata attire.

McCullum, while recording his maiden T20 century, also swept away a host of T20 records; his 13 sixes was three more than Chris Gayle's 10 against South Africa in the World T20 championship, while his 158* easily outdistanced Cameron White's 141* for Somerset.

Incidentally, Gayle is McCullum's team-mate in the Kolkata team but did not play, while White was at the receiving end of the Kiwi's wrath, going for 24 runs in the only over he bowled.

McCullum has been in peak form ever since he began opening for New Zealand in limited-overs following Stephen Fleming's retirement.

An experienced T20 player, with 31 games under his belt, he showed Bangalore, a team mockingly referred to as a team better suited to Test cricket, just how T20s had to be played.

Zaheer Khan, returning from a heel injury, went for a nightmarish 18 runs in his first over, thrashed by McCullum, in his own zone. Even while Sourav Ganguly struggled to put bat to ball at the other end, McCullum timed his shots beautifully, with effortless ease, each of his sixes soaring higher and longer than the other.

If Dravid thought 18 runs off Zaheer was expensive, his replacement, medium-pacer Ashley Noffke was worse, going for 23 runs, courtesy McCullum.

The only period in the game when Bangalore managed to stop McCullum was after Ganguly was caught at wide slip in Zaheer's second spell. The left-armer had a brilliant comeback, tying down Ricky Ponting, who was booed as he entered the arena. Zaheer's second spell read 2-0-6-1.

But in the final analysis, that was a minor victory. It was a McCullum solo all the way.