Kolkata Knight Riders’s artistry in first IPL power play
Twelve years ago on this day, the IPL began with a bang. Brendon McCullum, playing for KKR, gave the newborn league a dream start smashing an unbeaten 158 off just 73 balls against RCB. Sayak Banerjee looks back
When he hit ’em, they stayed hit that magical evening in Bangalore on April 18, 2008. The Indian Premier League (IPL), now the world’s most coveted cricket league, was about to take off — then more of an ambition and a promise of adventure for the Indian cricket board.
The seeds of the IPL’s success were sown on that evening 12 summers back when Brendon McCullum, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the very first match of the IPL, used his bat as a sledgehammer to beat the opposition — Rahul Dravid’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) — to a pulp and author a memorable innings of 158 not out.
McCullum, known for his aggressive batting, had been picked up by the Knights for $700,000.
RCB won the toss and invited the Knights to bat first. In walked McCullum with captain Sourav Ganguly as his opening partner.
McCullum took seven balls to score his first runs off the bat — a miscued shot off Zaheer Khan towards the third-man region yielded a maximum. Perhaps, that was the stroke of luck the New Zealander needed.
There was no stopping McCullum thereafter — his lightning bat speed under a cloudy Bangalore sky lit up the Chinnaswamy, announcing the arrival of the IPL.
Standing a yard outside the crease, McCullum shuffled across the off-stump to make room and swung his bat to perfection, playing the lofted shots with élan and pulling with disdain. He fancied the on-side as, of the 13 sixes he struck, 12 of them sailed into the stands going miles over long leg, square leg, midwicket and the long-on region.
One of the maximums was a paddle sweep-like shot off a yorker length delivery from Zaheer in the 17th over. Not many had been able to do that against the wily pacer.
In the 16th over, he brought up his century after pushing the ball towards deep extra cover. His 12th six, hit in the final over of the innings off Praveen Kumar, helped him go past Cameron White’s 141, which was till then the highest individual score in a T20 match.
David Hussey, who batted at No. 4 in that game and stitched a rapid 60-run partnership with McCullum in less than five overs, recalled: “Everyone was very nervous as it was the first-ever IPL game and in front of a packed house. The pitch was decent and boundaries weren’t big, and Brendon had the game plan of putting all bowlers under pressure early in the over.
“Every over, Brendon hit at least two or even three, boundaries. And his sixes seemed to get bigger and bigger. It was some of the cleanest hitting you will ever see and one of the best innings ever.”
The Knights won that match by a huge 140 runs, though they couldn’t reach the semi-finals that year.