If Twenty20, in the form of the IPL, is supposed to be conquering the cricket world, nobody told Ravi Shastri, who was addressing the crowd before the first match between Bangalore Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders.
With an audience already whipped into high fervour, Shastri was given the task of whipping them still higher. Introducing each of the team captains, Shastri started with Rahul Dravid, who was at his home ground.
“A man who’s scored more than 10,000 runs in both forms of the game.”
Both forms of the game, Ravi? Kind of implies that there are only two forms and that Twenty20 isn’t one of them. Ah well, something else for the marketing men to work on.
In the actual cricket, Brendon McCullum didn’t so much loom large as obscure all else. 158 not out was the highest-ever Twenty20 score, beating Cameron White’s 141 for Somerset.
McCullum’s innings came off just 73 balls and featured no fewer than 13 sixes. Nobody else in the match passed 20.
Last month, Mike Selvey wrote an interesting article in The Guardian about how McCullum has fashioned an innovative technique for one-day cricket. Selvey points out that the slips are effectively taken out of play as McCullum’s bat comes down at such an angle that edges fly over them.
That said, we didn’t see slips for the majority of McCullum’s innings yesterday. Nor did we see edges.
In truth, this match didn’t show Twenty20 in its best light. The crowd still went mental when McCullum cleared the rope off the final ball of Kolkata Knight Riders’ innings, but maybe not as mental as they went for his first few sixes. It seems everyone can tire of the six-hitting a little bit.
The best Twenty20 matches are those that go to the wire and Twenty20’s greatest strength is that this is often the case. Every ball counts. Yesterday, the second half of the match didn’t count – although the first half was quite a spectacle.