's second IPL century, his first for Chennai Super Kings, set up a big second win for the hosts. His 100 not out off 56 balls featured hits into the deserted disputed stands of MA Chidambram Stadium, two ramps for sixes over the keeper's head, and scarcely believable reverse-pull to take him to 99 after IPL debutant Trent Boult saw he had shaped up for the ramp and bowled a slower bouncer. McCullum was helped along by a domineering 53 off 29 from MS Dhoni, who was more at home coming in at 135 for 2.
Even through David Warner scored a fifty, Sunrisers Hyderabad never really got going against the Super Kings bowlers, who used the variable bounce to their advantage showing up a pretty insipid bowling effort from the visitors. Then again when McCullum is going hard at you, it is not easy to stick to your plans. He drove for four the second ball he faced, and his intent meant the Sunrisers bowlers forgot about using the new ball and the bounce. They were forced to bowl yorkers early in the piece, and with no wickets taken in the first four the others were under pressure too.
Ishant Sharma made a good start, but he bowled four no-balls, which ruined his figures. Two of the free hits went for sixes, one for four, and the fourth for a single. Take the 17 runs off his figures and his three overs for 29 look decent. Boult, chosen ahead of Dale Steyn, was neutralised by the immense pressure the openers put him under. Karn Sharma's flat legbreaks were now just cannon fodder.
Ravi Bopara, chosen ahead of Eoin Morgan, slowed them down a little with two tight overs that also featured two run-outs. Dhoni, not in the best of touches, promoted himself and prodded along to 4 off 8. This was a moment where Sunrisers would have fancied coming back in. In the next over McCullum cut Bopara in the air, but sent it in front of square because of the slow pace. The other IPL debutant, Kane Williamson, ran in from deep cover, but dropped him. That was the end of the mini comeback.
Dhoni took almost all of the strike, and to devastating effect. The bowlers neither had the pace to bounce him nor the accuracy to bother him. Over the next 22 balls Dhoni added four sixes and four fours to eight sixes and six fours that McCullum had already hit. By the time he fell in the 20th over, Dhoni had taken Super Kings to 198, and had left McCullum four balls to go from 89 to 100. The first ball was taken by Jadeja, who was run out but managed to turn the strike over. McCullum then sent the first - a low full toss - over the keeper's head, and then the slower bounce over short third man to reach 99. The single off the last ball brought the packed house to its feet. The few that weren't already, that is.
Super Kings bowled a lot of cutters and bouncers to exploit the abrasive surface. Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul both fell to slower balls from Mohit Sharma, Warner was kept quiet by the lack of pace on the ball, and Sunrisers showed they had got their plans wrong, sending Williamson to bat in the 15th over. He came in at the fall of Warner, who had just reached his fifty, and was the only hope with the asking rate having reached three runs a ball. There was going to be only one winner from thereon.