Brendon McCullum's incredible unbeaten century coupled with decimating fast bowling helped Kolkata Knight Riders inflict a humiliating 140-run defeat on Bangalore Royal Challengers.
His start, however, never gave a hint of the mayhem he subsequently unleashed. He was all tentative feet and flailing arms as Praveen Kumar bowled a tight first over that kept things quiet after the glitz and glamour of the opening ceremony.
Both McCullum and skipper Sourav Ganguly scampered to either ends, riding on leg-byes.
The tide however turned in the second over as McCullum slammed Zaheer Khan for 18 runs (4, 4, 6 and 4). The sheer power in his forearms ensured that even when he miscued the attempted whip over mid-wicket off Zaheer, the edge flew over third man for six! It perhaps was the lone false step in an innings (158 n.o., 73b, 10x4, 13x6) that kept injecting adrenaline into the visitors’ innings.
Meanwhile, his opening partner Ganguly kept finding the fielders before swatting Praveen Kumar for four. Ganguly however perished to Zaheer Khan’s much improved second spell, as he tried to twinkle-toe past mid-wicket but found the ball homing in and seaming off to kiss the edge. The openers shared a 61-run stand in 5.2 overs.
Ricky Ponting walked in and remained a bit player in a second-wicket partnership of 51 runs, though he did clatter one off Jacques Kallis into the stands. However, Kallis had his revenge as Ponting holed out to the deep.
McCullum meanwhile was busy bruising bowlers with powerful shots and it showed in the stooping shoulders of the bowlers.
Ashley Noffke’s first over cost 22 runs, later Cameron White’s first over was plundered for 24 runs, and McCullum besides the lofted shots that had power written all over them. He reached his century with a brace off Noffke and then reverted to his mery ways, as his sixers nearly put the earlier inaugural fireworks to the shade.
His century came in 53 balls and the next fifty off a mere 17 deliveries while his successive partners David Hussey and Mohammed Hafiz toiled in the shadows. Fittingly he hoisted the last delivery of the innings bowled by Praveen Kumar for six to round of his perfect knock.
Meanwhile, a few misfieldings did not help a besieged Royal Challengers skipper Rahul Dravid as in the initial overs, the ball seemed to chase B. Akhil and the nervous Karnataka allrounder was a bit overawed by the occasion.