Brendon McCullum to sign off in style: The Kiwi skipper, in all formats, Brendon McCullum, had announced his retirement from international cricket at the end of the on-going home Test series against Australia.
Having played his 100th Test in the first encounter of this series, he is currently appearing in his 101st Test match being played at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
Brendon had a lacklustre outing in his 100th appearance, when he could manage to score only 0 and 10 in the two innings that was played at Basin Reserve, Wellington. The match was won by Australia by an innings and 52 runs.
McCullum, playing in his very last Test of his career, had to stamp his authority by scoring big and also win the game to level the two-Test series.
Put in to bat by Australia, Kiwis had a tough time losing Martin Guptill (18), Tom Latham (4), Kane Williamson (7) and Henry Nicholls (7) with just 74 runs on the board.
There was work to be done. The innings had to be built. A solid partnership was the need of the hour.
At this juncture, the Kiwi skipper and Corey Anderson came together. Playing according to the demand of the situation, scoring runs and also keeping the wicket intact, the duo established a fifth-wicket partnership of 179 runs in 18.2 overs.
McCullum’s half-century came in just 34 deliveries with the help of 6 fours and 3 sixes. The half-century for the fifth-wicket partnership came in 34 deliveries, with McCullum contributing 25 runs and Anderson adding 20 runs.
Brendon struck his 12th Test century consuming only 54 balls, aided by 16 fours and 4 sixes. He raced to his century in a style.
The 36th over in the NZ innings bowled by Hazlewood proved to be very productive for the team and the batsman. McCullum was batting on 82 runs at the start of the over. The first two deliveries did not produce any run.
However, the third delivery took the top edge of McCullum’s bat and flew over fine leg clearing the distance for a huge six.
The fourth, fifth and the sixth deliveries were dispatched beyond the ropes, over the wicket-keeper’s head, over mid-on and over cover respectively. McCullum raced from 82 to 100 in mere four deliveries.
In the process he scored the fastest century in the history of Test cricket. His century came in just 54 deliveries with the help of 16 fours and 4 sixes. He created a new world record for the fastest Test century, bettering the one jointly held by the West Indian legend, Vivian Richards and the Pakistani wonder man, Misbah-ul-Haq.
Richards established the record in 1985-86 playing against England in Antigua and the same was equalled by Misbah-ul-Haq in 2014-15 playing against Australia in Abu Dhabi. Both of them had consumed 56 deliveries to reach the landmark.
It would be interesting to note that Kane Williamson took as many as 69 deliveries to score his 7 runs, 15 deliveries more than McCullum took to score a century.
Eventually Brendon got out after spending 124 minutes at the crease, scoring 145 runs off only 79 deliveries with 21 fours and 6 sixes at a whooping strike rate of 183.54, a rarity n Test cricket.
However, McCullum got a reprieve while on 39, when he was brilliantly caught by a diving Mitchell Marsh off James Pattinson, but a reference to the Third Umpire, Richard Illingworth of England, by the on-field Umpire Richard Kettleborough also of England, confirmed a front-foot ‘no-ball’ delivery.
In any case this Test match is becoming a landmark one for the Kiwi skipper and he would be looking forward to ‘walking into sunset’ on ‘a high’.