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McCullum plays down big-hitting heroics

Published: 7:36AM Saturday September 22, 2012 Source: Fairfax

If Brendon McCullum was chuffed with himself, following last night's record-breaking Twenty20 innings against Bangladesh, then he did a good job of hiding it at his press conference.

Already the most prolific run-getter in international Twenty20 history, and the No. 1-ranked batsman in this form of the game, his 58-ball knock of 123 also saw him claim the honour of the highest individual score at this level.

In doing so, he helped New Zealand post and impregnable total of 191 for three, which they defended with ease after restricting Bangladesh to 132 for eight in their Twenty20 World Cup Group D clash at the Pallekele Cricket Stadium.

But instead of gloating or demanding respect from people, McCullum simply praised the effort of opener James Franklin, with whom he shared a 94-run second-wicket partnership and deflected attention away from the records that came his way last night.

"I guess I'm pretty lucky that there's only a short shelf-life so far in Twenty20,'' McCullum said.

The dynamic right-hander also became the first man to go past 1500 runs in international Twenty20 cricket and the only player to score two hundreds.

McCullum brought last night's hundred up in 51 balls, just a delivery shy of the total it took to reach his previous century at this level, against Australia in 2010.

But as he neared the milestone at Pallekele, McCullum said his place in history was the last thing on his mind.

"Once we got ourselves in a position to explode, it was a matter of making sure we maximised that. So that was certainly my thinking at that time and not records,'' he said.

A few Black Caps made handy contributions in the match. Franklin's innings of 35 from 36 balls was useful, Ross Taylor (14 from 12) helped McCullum close the innings well and Tim Southee and Nathan McCullum were both very good with the ball.

But it was Brendon McCullum's clean, well-placed and thoughtful hitting that was ultimately the difference between the two sides.

He was simply a class above anyone else involved in the contest and neatly underlined his importance to New Zealand's world cup campaign.

Everyone is going to have to play a significant part, for the team to kick on from this fast start.

But, if McCullum doesn't fire, then the team are unlikely to progress past the Super 8s stage, which they all-but qualified for following last night's win.

In a different sport, a bloke can be described as having played outstandingly well, when all he's really done is catch the ball a couple of times and fall over the tryline.

McCullum's batting was truly phenomenal and even he conceded that he'd remember this night for a while.

"This'll definitely be up there as far as Twenty20 knocks [are concerned] and especially because of the uncertainty around only playing two games in your pool.

"You really need to turn up and play incredibly well in your first game to make sure you give yourself the best opportunity of qualifying [for the Super 8s],'' he said.

"So the significance of that and to be able to produce a performance under those circumstances, I was pleased with.''

To all intents and purposes, New Zealand have qualified for the Super 8s, but it won't be until after tomorrow night's clash with Pakistan that it can be said for sure.

Their reward would be to remain at Pallekele and play Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies, in the Super 8 stage.

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