Preview, PAK vs NZ: Pakistan face the McCullum threat
By Mazher Arshad on September 22nd, 2012

The versatility of McCullum’s shots is beyond measure. He bats by the book, and for good measures, off the book, like that tennis forearm hit over the head at long-off, a shot even Roger Federer would struggle to play.

First time when Brendon McCullum came under the spotlight, it was not for good reasons. When New Zealand got eliminated from World Cup 2003, he was made scapegoat for dropping Rahul Dravid at one at stage when India were 22-3 chasing a trifling target of 147. It was not until end of 2005 that he caught the public eye for good reasons, by scoring unbeaten 50 off 25 balls in highest successful ODI chase (332) against then the world champions, and vindicated what his batting prowess is capable of. I regret missing that innings, for I was busy sitting in Gaddafi Stadium to watch another run-fest.

It is due to his aggressive batting abilities that today he is one of the frightening Twenty20 batsmen. One would argue on Australia being Number 8 in ICC T20 Rankings, but no one would on Brendon McCullum being Number 1, a fitting status for a batsman who has 214 runs in last 2 Twenty20 internationals, including an innings of 123, the highest ever of the format.

McCullum’s strength is: he knows nuts and bolts of Twenty20 craftsmanship. The versatility of his shots is beyond measure so much so that he bats by the book, and for good measures, off the book; like he showed us the other day, in game against Bangladesh, with that tennis forearm hit over his head at long-off, a shot even Roger Federer would struggle to play. He hardly mistimes a shot when on song as he was during that 123-innings or some years ago in the first ever game of IPL. So neat and clean hitting he does.

Pakistan are set to face New Zealand and, for that matter, Brendon McCullum in their World T20 opener on Sunday. The match, for many reasons, would be a contest to watch. The foremost strength of New Zealand is McCullum, of Pakistan it is Ajmal; while McCullum is Number 1 batsman is T20 Rankings, Ajmal is Number 1 bowler in the Rankings; while McCullum is leading run-getter (1566) in Twenty20 internationals, Ajmal is leading wicket-taker (60).

There has been contests, between leading run-getters and wicket-takers, in other formats in the past; Lara vs Warne in Tests, Tendulkar vs Akram in One Days. McCullum vs Ajmal would make it for Twnenty20s.

As for the contests between the two teams, until 2007 it was fitting to say Pakistan were scourge for the Kiwis as so often Pakistan had a way with New Zealand in World Cups. But things changed then. Now for the fourth consecutive year, Pakistan will be up against New Zealand in an ICC event, and on all the three previous occasions Pakistan tasted defeat – Champions Trophy Semi Final 2009, World T20 Super Eight Match 2010, Cricket World Cup Group Match 2011.

Last time these two teams played at Pallekele, the birthday boy Ross Raylor plundered a ruthless ton which Pakistan would be having on their minds. This time Brendon McCullum could be a similar threat, though he does not have birthday on Sunday but he wouldn’t mind celebrating it four days before.

Stats and Trivia

- Brendon McCullum when plays tomorrow will be only second player, after Shahid Afridi, to feature in 50 Twenty20 Internationals.

- Brendon McCullum has most runs (1566), most hundreds (2), most fifties (9), most sixes (64), most fours (150) in Twenty20 Internationals.

- Umar Gul was leading wicket-taker in ICC World Twenty20 2007 as well in 2009 – on both occasions he took 13 wickets. He missed the third edition in 2010 due to injury. He has 26 wickets in 14 matches of World T20s.

- Shahid Afridi in eight matches has 12 wickets against New Zealand, the most by him against any team in Twenty20 Internationals.

- Top three leading wicket-takers in Twenty20 Internationals are from Pakistan – Saeed Ajmal (60), Umar Gul (59) and Shahid Afridi (58).

- Shahid Afridi has seven Man of the Match awards in Twenty20 Internationals, the most by any player. Brendon McCullum is pursuing him with 6 awards.

Mazher Arshad is sub-editor at Criclens, he tweets here.

2 Responses to “Preview, PAK vs NZ: Pakistan face the McCullum threat”

  1. Usman Khan says:

    Thanks for the article, Mazher. I was just wondering how would you comment about the performance of Shahid Afiridi in the recent matches. He has constantly not been performing, and it also seems like he is not totally into the game. What do you think?

  2. Sheru says:

    Umer akmal dont deserve to bat at uper order, he should bat at number 8 while Abdul Razzaq should bat during first 6. Sami should be picked instead of tanvir.

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