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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Baz lights up first-ever IPL spectacle


April 18, 2008 - With millions pumped into the IPL, there were nerves about how the tournament would fare. Brendon McCullum set the perfect tone as he went on to clobber an unbeaten 158 off just 73 deliveries in the first-ever IPL game. Cricket has never been the same since.

After the unanticipated success of India at the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in 2007, there were ample signs that the format would be the future of the game. But that it would progress so rapidly and take the cricketing world by storm was hardly anticipated.

The BCCI may have initially resisted the idea, but one man was quick to gauge the potential of the format. As the tournament began on September 12, 2007, former Rajasthan Cricket Association President Lalit Modi registered a company called the Indian Cricket League Ltd (ICL) with the Registrar of Companies on September 19, 1995, with an aim to promote Modi Entertainment Network, which used to distribute the newly-launched sports channel ESPN in the country.

As luck would have it, the Zee group was quick to latch on to the idea of the ICL. Stunned, Modi threatened to take Zee to court for stealing his company's name, but never did. Instead, for the next six months, he put all his energy in his brainchild, the Indian Premier League, with the first match set to be played on April 18, 2008.

There were still nerves about how the tournament would fare. Cricket had never seen an extravaganza on such a big scale. With crores of rupees pumped into it, its success or failure now affected thousands.

One of the eight franchises, KKR had hired arguably the fiercest hard-hitting batsmen in Brendon McCullum. Though nervous, McCullum had all the components required to set the perfect tone for the league. He went on to clobber an unbeaten 158 off just 73 deliveries. On the receiving end were the RCB bowlers.

McCullum smashed everything on offer and put on 61-run partnership for the opening wicket in just 5.2 overs with skipper Sourav Ganguly. It was his day. Whatever he touched, hit the sweet spot of his willow and raced to the boundary.

The Kiwi was not done after the opening onslaught. He looked to rub it in by going into the fifth gear. He put up another 51-run partnership with Ricky Ponting in 6.5 overs for the second wicket. McCullum kept hitting everything, each hit getting loud applause and cheers from the ecstatic crowd. No one had seen such brutal hitting before.

McCullum kept his best for the death overs. In the last three overs, KKR put up 50 runs with McCullum contributing 45 runs of them. Overall, McCullum smashed 13 sixes and 10 fours in his 73-ball 158 not out. It helped to put up a mammoth total of 222/3 in 20 overs and set the tone for the rest of the IPL and the upcoming editions.

"You talk about sliding doors, and moments in your careers and in lives," McCullum told kkr.in on the anniversary of his trailblazing innings and the IPL. "That night, my life changed completely in the space of those three hours or actually, even an hour and a half.

"Why was I the one who got that opportunity to be able to go and face [the] first [delivery] with Sourav Ganguly? How did I get a chance to play in the first game, have the first opportunity to bat in such a huge tournament for world cricket? How was I even able to grab that opportunity? How much luck did I have along the way? Honestly, I don't know the answers to any of these, but what I do know is that it changed my life forever."

McCullum has done some truly game-changing things throughout his career. Apart from the IPL inning that changed his life and the world of cricket forever, he also led the New Zealand team in a new and refreshing direction. It was only fitting that Baz walked away from cricket in trademark style as he scored the fastest Test century of all time off 54 balls against Australia in his 101st and last Test.

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