Revealed: The Brendon McCullum stamp on KL Rahul’s cricket graph
Brendon McCullum's 158 in 2008 inspired KL Rahul to attempt innovative shots.

KL Rahul has revealed how sitting in the stands watching Brendon McCullum kick-start the first match of the inaugural Indian Premier League in 2008 inspired him to add bolder and innovative shots to his batting,

On April 18, 2008 at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium, in the landmark first IPL game ever, McCullum smacked 10 fours and 13 sixes in an unbeaten 158 off 73 balls to power Kolkata Knight Riders to 222/3 in their 20 overs, a total that proved far too much for hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore who lost by 140 runs.

Rahul was a teenager then and McCullum’s electric hundred left him in awe. (READ: RCB continue hunt for maiden title)

“I was in the stadium as a 16-year-old boy watching the game. Brendon McCullum got a 158 with the kind of batting that we had never ever seen or witnessed before. Obviously, the flavour and madness of T20 began with the 2008 IPL season,” he told Redbull. (READ: How Dhoni inspired Saha to make a comeback)

“For us as youngsters, it was unbelievable. After that is when I started practising hitting sixes, reverse sweeps and scoop shots. That is one of my first IPL memories and one of my favourites.”

Rahul worked his way up through age-level cricket and into India’s Under-19 World Cup squad in 2010 and made his India senior debut in a Test in 2014.

From 2013 to 2105 he was part of the Sunrisers Hyderadad squad but did not make a mark. In 2016 he was transferred from SRH to RCB and scored 397 runs at a strike-rate of 146.49 to break into India’s ODI and T2oIs squads. He scored a century on ODI debut later that summer and a golden duck in his first T20I.

Recalling his move from SRH to RCB, Rahul said it was what changed his career.

“I got a call at 9:20 am when the auction was to start at 9:30 am. I remember very clearly that I was at my friend Varun Aaron’s wedding and they called me saying, ‘We have transferred you to RCB. We are sorry because we have other plans and we don’t see you fitting into our plans. You will get better chances in RCB,'” he said.

“I was very happy to be back home in Bangalore. That year was just so good for me. I didn’t start off the season but I came into the tournament by the fifth or sixth game. I got my first IPL 50 in Gujarat while batting with Virat [Kohli], and then I went on to score four consecutive 50s.  At one point in the season, we needed to win five out of six games to go to the next stage, and we ended up winning all of the matches. We went on to play the final and lost to Hyderabad, but 2016 was a magical year for me because it turned my whole career around.”