IPL: Brendon McCullum's spectacular 158 bamboozles Bangalore in IPL's inaugural match

There was a fine blend of brute force and finesse in Brendon McCullum’s innings © AFP

April 18, 2008. Probably fifty years from now on this day will be talked about for being that day in the history which revolutionised cricket. Indian Premier League commenced amidst lot of hearsays and exhilaration. When Brendon McCullum played once-in-a-lifetime innings for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening encounter, the bowlers just looked hapless. Sarang Bhalerao goes into the flashback mode.

It was a Friday blockbuster that had gripped the attention of the nation. The marketing of the product called IPL had made people fervent even before the first ball was bowled. There was a glam quotient. There were cheerleaders. And there were questions: how “cool” would the frenetic paced game actually would be?

And 20 overs hence Brendon McCullum had made people chortle at the species they call “bowlers”.  The writers were penning down mellifluous metaphors. At the same time they were preparing obituaries for the bowlers. The ridiculous ease with which McCullum hammered every bowler substantiated one fact at least on that fateful night for the Bangalore bowlers: cricket is a batsman’s game.

McCullum hit 10 boundaries and 13 sixes. There were straight hits, pulls over mid-wickets, slog-sweep and even the paddle-sweep, of the fast bowler of Zaheer Khan’s quality, which went for sixes. His innings of 158 off 73 balls is the highest individual score even today.  Ask Praveen Kumar, Zaheer , Ashley Noffke, Jacques Kallis, Sunil Joshi and Cameron White, these bowlers found McCullum’s willow no less than a magic wand.

There was a fine blend of brute force and finesse in his innings. Bowling length delivery was a heinous delinquency. It was a simple equation that day: Length ball= at least 10 rows beneath the boundary ropes. Yorker length deliveries were hit behind the wicket where no captain will ever dare to put the fielders.

Rahul Dravid, the captain of Bangalore, was befuddled by the crazy hitting. Even 22 fielders on the ground would not have helped Dravid. Bangalore conceded 222 in 20 overs.

Their run-chase was in tatters. The team got bundled out for 82 runs. Kolkata had won by 140 runs. Their owner Shahrukh Khan was jovial throughout the match.

McCullum scripted the propitious start of the league and entered his name in the annals of T20 history. At 60 he might wonder how easily he had thrashed the bowlers all around the park that day; which emanated joy amongst the Indians who consider cricket as their de facto national game.

The league had a propitious start. The IPL burlesque was well and truly begun. And it was here to stay.

Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 222 for 3 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 158*) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 82 in 15.1 overs (Agarkar 3-25) by 140 runs.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)