| Brendon McCullum en route to his 123 off 58 balls in Pallekele, on Friday
Calcutta: New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum confirmed his love of the 20-over game following his match-winning century in the ICC World Twenty20 victory over Bangladesh in Pallekele.
The batsman-wicketkeeper became the first cricketer to hit two centuries in Twenty20 Internationals when he struck 123 in Friday’s 59-run win — the highest score in T20 Internationals.
Furthermore, McCullum became the first batsman to 1500 T20I runs and also holds the record for the highest score in all T20 cricket of 158. With those figures behind him, it would have been difficult for McCullum to deny his suitability to the short format.
“It’s a game which does suit me and my style of play and temperament as well,” he said.
“I always want to try and be aggressive when I am out there. I am fortunate enough to have played enough Twenty20 games now to get the pattern of how you are going to play.
“It is not always going to come off but when it does you have got a reasonable script in your mind about how you are to pace your innings and when you are required to go after the boundary and when you need to make sure you just turn it over,” told mediapersons in Pallekele.
Compiling a match-winning ICC World T20 innings might be an obvious candidate as a batsman’s best 20-over knock but when you have a back catalogue like McCullum — 158 not out in the first ever IPL match and 116 not out against Australia — it is not so clear-cut.
“There have been a couple of innings which I remember for various reasons. This one is really up there among the best Twenty20 knocks that I have played. Especially because of the uncertainty around only playing two [group] games...
“You need to turn up and play incredibly well in your first game to give yourself the best opportunity of qualifying. To be able to get a performance under those circumstances I was pleased with. Also the fact that left-arm spinners have posed us some problems in the past it was nice to put them out to pasture for a while.”
McCullum also paid tribute to James Franklin, who played an understated but valuable role in a second-wicket partnership of 94.
“Technically we were smart by sending Franklin up at the top of the order. I thought that allowed us the freedom of the left-hand/ right-hand combination inside the top three and while James didn’t score at a strike-rate of 200 he played a very important part in the partnership.
“His ability to chop and change the angles they would have bowled, that was one of the things we should be very pleased about that they came off,” McCullum concluded.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim defended his decision to bowl first.
“We backed ourselves to chase anything around 160. You see the way our bowlers bowled in the first two overs... They started well. Thereafter Brendon batted superbly and showed why he is the number one ranked batter in T20 cricket.
“Our quicks and spinners did not bowl to the field. Also our fielding let us down. If we had restricted them to around 160 then it would have been a different ball game,” rued Mushfiqur.
Bangladesh’s band of left-arm spinners struggled as Brendon McCullum slammed 123 off 58 balls, his second hundred in T20I cricket and also the highest score in this format in T20Is. But Mushfiqur defended his spin attack.
“If you see two of them are left-arm spinners
Shakib is more of a batting or bowling all-rounder.
“I don’t think our left-arm spinners had too much help from the pitch. Credit should go to Brendon for the way he batted. Other than him no one really played well,’’ said Mushfiqur.
“Definitely we will look at our game (in the next three days). We have tomorrow and day after as a couple of off days before our next match against Pakistan, who are dangerous in this format. We will have to have a relook at our strategy and give 100 per cent in our next game,’’ informed Mushfiqur.