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ICC World T20 2012 – NZ vs Ban: Brendon McCullum Ton Razes Bangladesh

By on September 21, 2012

New Zealand 191 for 3 (B McCullum 123) beat Bangladesh132 for 8 (Hossain 50, Southee 3-16, Mills 3-33) by 59 runs…

Brendan McCullum broke a few Twenty20 international records in New Zealand’s 59-run win over Bangladesh in the Group D opener in Pallekele, but his spectacular 123 off just 58 balls more importantly gave his team the breathing space in the tournament’s toughest group. McCullum broke the record for the highest score in Twenty20 internationals when he went past Richard Levi’s 117 made earlier this year (which, coincidentally, came against New Zaland), and has also become the first batsman to score two hundreds in this format.

The innings was more than enough to ward off any threat from the Bangladesh batsman, who were facing their second-highest chase. Kyle Mills gave them no chance of a quick recovery by removing Tamim Iqbal off the third ball, the left-hand batsman rigid at the crease and caught easily by Martin Guptill. In his next over, Mills took the wicket of Shakib Al Hasan, who continued his poor day by chipping one to Kane Williamson at cover. The same combination removed captain Mushfiqur Rahim, the catch taken at deep midwicket. Tim Southee continued his good form by also picking up three wickets, but it would be Mills’ performance that would be most encouraging for New Zealand, after he had crashed into McCullum in their last competitive Twenty20 just ten days ago.

McCullum, too, looked well over the effects of that collision. In an hour and 12 minutes, he produced not only a scintillating display of big-hitting but also showed how to change gears in a 20-over innings without wasting too many deliveries. His knock is the prototype that all modern-day coaches would want batsmen to strive for, though some of McCullum’s shots can hardly be imitated without his energy, authority and imagination.

Bangladesh lacked the authority because they were not the ones in command while fielding. Mushfiqur would be disappointed with his fielders letting him down. The number of fumbles and misfields from the beginning showed how stiff they were and it also meant that a costly overthrow (by Mashrafe Mortaza in the seventh over) or a dropped catch of McCullum (by Mashrafe in the 19th) was only a matter of time.

But Mushfiqur too was at fault by only sticking to Plan A, which was to rotate the left-arm spinners according to the phases of the Twenty20 innings. He didn’t actually rotate his bowlers according to who was at the crease or the acceleration of the batsmen. When McCullum was new at the crease and had trouble getting after Abdur Razzak, Mushfiqur Rahim took off the senior left-arm spinner so that his two overs could be used later. It was becoming quite obvious who would bowl when and, as a result, the batsmen could easily read what the bowler was about to dish out – after Razzak had bowled two good overs at the top, it was quite obvious that Mushfiqur would ask him to bowl the final over.

Sometimes, though, a batting performance like McCullum’s doesn’t leave the captain with much choice. From the classic backfoot punch through the covers to finishing off the New Zealand innings with two pulled sixes, McCullum was the firestarter, anchor and finisher of the innings.

He freed his arms for the first time when he slapped Shafiul Islam dutifully through the covers. In the next over came his first six, a typical smash over the covers, and he followed it up with his second an over later. More than those two sixes though it was how he deflated Bangladesh’s energy by going after their best bowler. With Shakib conceding 20 off his first two overs, including two big sixes, Bangladesh started to look less inspired as their best player was made to look pedestrian.

McCullum unfurled three boundaries in the next two overs off Elias Sunny and Ziaur Rahman as he spread his range to almost all corners of the large field in Pallekele. He reached his fifty off 29 balls but remained wary of what was at stake as he went quiet in Razzak’s third over. That should’ve been Mushfiqur Rahim’s cue to give him another over to keep the run-rate down, but the next five overs went for 62 runs, which included McCullum pounding a flat-bat strike for six off a Mashrafe bouncer. He also rode out Franklin’s fall, and with captain Ross Taylor feeding him the strike at every opportunity, a century looked right around the corner.

The next burst was against Shafiul, who was hit for fifteen in the 17th over; the next three overs went for 15, 17 and 16 as Bangladesh fell apart. McCullum, in the meantime, reached his century with a routine pull to the midwicket boundary off the 51st delivery he faced, racing from 50 to the century in just 22 balls.

McCullum fell off the last ball of the innings to give Razzak his second wicket but he had damaged Bangladesh badly enough. Apart from having the highest individual innings score and being the highest run-getter in T20Is, McCullum also holds the record now for the most boundaries (150) and sixes (64) in this format.

With Bangladesh struggling at 37 for four in the seventh over, Nasir Hossain took the opportunity to score his second Twenty20 international fifty, but was dismissed just one ball after he had reached the milestone. He gave a good account of his skills, crashing six boundaries and a six, but he is still far away from the sort of batsman who can create panic or change the course of the game.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo‘s correspondent in Bangladesh

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