IPL Top Moments: Brendon McCullum blazes away to provide the perfect opening act
On April 18, in the first match of the inaugural IPL, Brendon McCullum played the kind of innings that would go on to stamp the blueprint of the way T20 cricket was looked at. As the Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the most hyped teams – partly due to its owner in Shah Rukh Khan, took on the Rahul Dravid-led Royal Challengers Bangalore, McCullum blasted a knock unlike any other. In 2008, an individual score of 158 was something a batsman could be proud of in ODIs, but here, McCullum had done it in a T20 match, off just 73 balls, having hit 13 sixes. It was the perfect storm that set the platform for what would turn out to become the world’s most fabled T20 cricket league – the IPL.
In 2007, India won the T20 World Cup in South Africa, and a format which was mostly frowned upon, began being embraced with open arms in India. Two things emerged bright from India’s victorious T20 World Cup campaign – the birth of MS Dhoni, the captain, and the introduction of the IPL, T20 league cricket’s Holy Grail. If the opening ceremony was a spectacle, what followed took everyone’s breath away. McCullum single-handedly bludgeoned a punch-drunk RCB lifting KKR to 222/3. It was a pretty spectacular knock for more than one reason. One, McCullum was yet to get off the mark after facing the first six balls. However, off the next four, he raced to 18 and there was no looking back. A little later, McCullum went 17 balls without a boundary before dishing out a carnage extraordinaire, with Jacques Kallis and Ashley Noffke being taken for 88 runs in their eight overs combined. Kumar, who had given away 16 off his first three including 13 dot balls, was belted for 22 in the final over of the innings, thrice being hit over the ropes. RCB, who didn’t have the best of T20 cricketers around – Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer and Shivnarine Chanderpaul could only muster 82, but honestly the match was over long before.
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Meaning and Impact
While Chris Gayle’s 117 off 57 had provided a glimpse of what T20 cricket had in store for batsmen, McCullum, in one inning, changed the entire landscape of batting. That season itself, five more centuries were scored, with Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Sanath Jayasuriya and Shaun Marsh scoring hundreds. Not taking anything away from the likes of Chris Gayle, Shane Watson and AB de Villiers, who went on to become IPL sensations. However, Baz was the original IPL megastar who laid the groundwork for some of the most blistering knocks the world would come to see over the next decade.
McCullum, who went on to become one of New Zealand’s most successful captains, revealed how that one knock changed his entire life. “You talk about sliding doors, and moments in your careers and in lives,” McCullum told kkr.in. “That night, my life changed completely in the space of those three hours or actually, even an hour and a half.
“Why was I the one who got that opportunity to be able to go and face [the] first [delivery] with Sourav Ganguly? How did I get a chance to play in the first game, have the first opportunity to bat in such a huge tournament for world cricket? How was I even able to grab that opportunity? How much luck did I have along the way? Honestly, I don’t know the answers to any of these, but what I do know is that it changed my life forever.”
Where did McCullum go from there?
McCullum played just three more matches for KKR that season before leaving for national duty. He played two more seasons with KKR managing only three more half-centuries. In 2011, McCullum moved to Kochi Tuskers Kerala, where he scored 357 runs in his only season with the franchise. The best of McCullum, however, was reserved for the Chennai Super Kings when he scored 405 and 436 runs in 2014 and 2015 respectively, playing some impactful knocks at the top which were highly crucial in CSK reaching the knockouts.
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- Sibley played a patient hand and scored an unbeaten 56. He was aided by the cavalier batting of Jos Buttler at the other end, who scored 46 priceless runs in 48 deliveries as England swept the series 2-0.