NZ vs SL: Brendon McCullum falls 5 short of smashing fastest Test double ton
New Zealand's big-hitting skipper Brendon McCullum came close to surpassing countryman and former batsman Nathan Astle's (153 balls) record for the fastest Test double century. However, it wasn't to be and he departed for 195 off 134 balls. His belligerent innings meant New Zealand were 429/7 at stumps on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Christchurch on Friday – the most scored by the Black Caps in a day's play.
McCullum, has had a great year and had earlier smashed a double ton off 186 balls, now the fifth fastest of all time, against Pakistan in Sharjah in November.
His whirlwind 195 runs off 134 deliveries included 11 sixes and 18 fours and came after he lost the toss and New Zealand were made to bat on a green wicket that bore all the hallmarks of a bowler's paradise.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum celebrates after reaching 150 during the first Test match vs Sri Lanka at the Hagley Park Oval in Christchurch on Friday. Pic/AFP
McCullum now also holds the most sixes in Tests in a calendar year. Former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist had hit 22 sixes in 15 Tests in 2005 while MCullum has 33 after nine matches this year
The 8,000 people who packed Christchurch's Hagley Oval were looking for an outstanding performance to mark the return of Test cricket to the earthquake-battered city and the signs were against them until McCullum strode to the crease with New Zealand at 88-3.
As McCullum bludgeoned the bowling, he cracked the fastest century in New Zealand Test history (off 74 deliveries) and became the first New Zealander to score 1,000 runs in a calendar year. He equalled the New Zealand record of 26 off one over, when he smashed three sixes and two fours off one over by Sri Lanka strike bowler Suranga Lakmal, and finished with 11 sixes, one short of the world record of 12 sixes in an innings held by Pakistan's Wasim Akram.
McCullum bettered his own record of the fastest century by a Kiwi cricketer by four deliveries as the 33-year-old helped New Zealand reached 429 for seven. James Neesham (85) and Kane Williamson (54) also punished the hapless Lankan bowlers.
McCullum feasted on the bowling attack as the visitors continuously bowled to his strengths, getting carried away by the ample carry. They bowled way too short and the right-hander belted them away, square of the wicket, even when there were two men lurking in the deep.
He had a scare on 153 when Kumar Sangakkara missed a straight-forward opportunity at long on, before he was eventually undone when he launched into off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal.
He hit a six, two and four off consecutive balls off the Test debutant before getting too far under the fourth delivery and was caught by a diving Dimuth Karunaratne at long-off.
With this 195-run knock in just 134 deliveries, the skipper has so far ensured that all his 50-plus scores in 2014, were converted into massive centuries- 224,302, 202, 195.
In February, McCullum became the first Kiwi to score 300 in a Test innings in the 2nd Test against India and has averaged nearly 67 from 16 innings in the year.
Sri Lankan debutant spinner Tharindu Kaushal also failed to contain McCullum, who also crossed the 1000-run mark in a calendar year.
He is the 136th cricketer to join the 1,000 runs-list which is headed by Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf who notched a phenomenal 1,788 at 99.33 in 2006.
New Zealand finished the day’s play on 429 for seven in the 80th over, having maintained a run-rate of 6.63 in the final session despite McCullum's exit.