(Reuters) – New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum’s record breaking exploits continued yesterday as he imposed his will on a test match to bend it to his team’s advantage for the fourth time this year.
McCullum smashed 195 runs from 134 balls at Hagley Oval to lead New Zealand to 429 for seven at the close of the first day’s play of the first test against Sri Lanka, despite his side having been put in on a green-pitch.
The innings came within a whisker of becoming the fastest test double century, eclipsed his own New Zealand record for the fastest century and enabled him to become the first New Zealander to score 1,000 test runs in a calendar year.
The innings demonstrated for the fourth time this year how much McCullum can, when the mood takes and circumstances allow, impose himself to shape the game’s outcome.
In the opening test of 2014 against India and with the off-field antics of Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell overshadowing the team, McCullum came to the crease with his side 30-3.
By the time he was out, he had shared in big partnerships with Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson and put on 105 runs with the bowlers to guide his side to 503, of which he scored 224. New Zealand won the game by 40 runs.
It was the second test at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, however, that truly cemented his name in the record books.
Facing a 246-run first innings deficit, New Zealand were 52-3 when McCullum came to the wicket before they slumped further to 94-5 and facing defeat inside three days.
McCullum, however, hunkered down and batted for 775 minutes before he became the first New Zealander to score a test triple century.
While he was dismissed shortly after, he trudged off with the game saved and the two-match series won.
McCullum’s third test performance against Pakistan in the UAE last month again showed how few other batsmen in the world can change the momentum of a match.
Pakistan had scored 351 in 125.4 overs on a slow Sharjah pitch before McCullum tore the Pakistani bowlers apart with 202 in a 297-run partnership with Williamson.
New Zealand eventually posted a total of 690 in 143.1 overs and then dismissed the hosts for 259 to win the game by an innings and 80 runs inside four days and level the series.
Yesterday in Christchurch, McCullum, again at his bludgeoning best, demonstrated how cricket can be so influenced by the sheer will of just one man.