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Brendon McCullum smashed records galore as New Zealand overwhelmed Bangladesh by 59 runs in the first match of Group D in the Twenty20 World Cup at Pallekele today. McCullum's 58-ball 123 was not only his second Twenty20 International century, but also the highest-ever score by a batsman in this format at the international level.
McCullum hit 11 boundaries and seven sixes, including two in the last over of the innings bowled by Abdur Razzak, as he went clear of South African Richard Levi's previous highest score of 117* made against New Zealand in Hamilton earlier this year. McCullum was dismissed in the last delivery of the innings when he slashed a wide ball to Tamim Iqbal to end Bangladesh's miseries as New Zealand finished at 191 for 3.
Bangladesh needed a strong start to harbour any hopes of chasing down the massive target, but they were dealt a huge blow when Tamim Iqbal holed out to Martin Guptill at cover to give Kyle Mills his first wicket of the innings; things went from bad to worse as they were reduced to 37 for 4 inside seven overs. The usually reliable Shakib al Hasan had a day to forget - 0 for 40 and 11 - as he became Mills' second wicket when Kane Williamson caught him at cover point. Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim failed to take advantage of a McCullum dropped catch when he was yet to score and soon after became Mills' third wicket. Tim Southee then trapped Mohammad Ashraful (21) plumb in front to push Bangladesh further down the abyss.
Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain then gave Bangladesh something to cheer about with their 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket, which is the country's highest for this wicket in T20 Internationals. Hossain was the more adventorous of the pair and Mahmudullah was content giving him the bulk of the strike. The partnership was ended by Nathan McCullum when he had Mahmudullah caught by Williamson, as the fielder took his third catch of the innings.
Hossain, who combined power hitting with some deft touches, and was by far the best of Bangladesh's batsmen, hit half a dozen boundaries and a six in his 39-ball 50 before he was well caught by Guptill off Southee. Bangladesh ended their sorry innings at 132 for 8 with Mills (3-33) and Southee (3-16) being the most successful of the bowlers.
Earlier, Rahim sent New Zealand into bat in overcast conditions and his decision appeared to be vindicated when Razzak clean bowled Guptill (11) in the fourth over of the match with only 19 runs on the board. This, unfortunately for Bangladesh, was as good as it got for the remainder of the innings as McCullum, who came in at No. 3, and James Franklin, added 94 runs in 10.5 overs for the second wicket.
Franklin (36) and McCullum took their time to play themselves in and negate the left-arm spin threat of the Bangladesh bowlers and were unfazed even when only 34 runs were scored in the powerplay overs. McCullum had hit a couple of boundaries before he hit his first six of the innings - a flat hit over the cover boundary - in the eighth over of the innings.
Franklin hit a six off Elias Sunny, but for the most part was content rotating the strike and playing the second fiddle to McCullum, who reached his half-century with a boundary through square leg from the 29th delivery he had faced. Franklin's anchor knock ended when he Mashrafe Mortaza had him caught by Sunny, but this was the cue for McCullum to increase his assault on the hapless Bangladesh attack, which was best exemplified by a tennis forehand like shot from above his head that went sailing over the long-off boundary.
McCullum then went into complete assault mode as New Zealand scored 68 runs from the last five overs of the innings with skipper Ross Taylor (14*) also playing second fiddle to the in-form wicket keeper-batsman. Shafiul Islam, Shakib, Sunny and Razzak all bore the brunt of McCullum's assault in this period; as the wicket keeper-batsman played shots all around the wicket in his imperious knock. Mortaza (1-26) was the most economical of Bangaldesh's bowlers, and he was well supported by Razzak, who had figures of 4-0-28-2 despite McCullum hitting two sixes in his last over.
New Zealand play Pakistan at Pallekele on Sunday afternoon, while Bangladesh face the Mohammad Hafeez-led team at the same venue on September 25. The top two teams from each group progress to the Super Eights stage of the T20 World Cup.