The auspicious date
On April 18, 2008, Brendon McCullum gave the IPL a dream start by clobbering 158 off 73 balls in its inaugural game at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. He was opening for Kolkata at the time and the innings was a career-defining one. Six years later, to the day, McCullum was playing for Chennai for the first time and he sizzled as hot as the Abu Dhabi afternoon, scoring 67 off 45 balls.
The good and the bad
In the second over, McCullum skipped down the pitch as Parvinder Awana dropped short and forehanded the ball fiercely over the infield at cover for four. The next ball, McCullum stayed back to a short delivery and hooked. The ball disappeared for four again, but this time via a top edge over the wicketkeeper's head.
The bad and the ugly
McCullum was trying to smash most deliveries and in the fifth over he hit one hard and flat to mid-on, where the Punjab captain George Bailey moved to his left but dropped the catch. McCullum was on 22 at the time and he charged at the next delivery and launched it over the long-on boundary for the second of five sixes. Things were about to get much uglier for Punjab.
The worthy successors
Chennai have always enjoyed the luxury of prolific opening combinations - Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden, and then M Vijay and Hussey. For the 2014 season, they unveiled brand new openers in McCullum and Dwayne Smith, who had a standard to maintain. When McCullum pulled Mitchell Johnson over the midwicket boundary off the fifth ball of the sixth over, Chennai had reached 70. It was their best Powerplay score in seven seasons. The opening partnership seemed to be in safe hands.
The Punjab openers had unusual numbers on their jerseys. Virender Sehwag sported 319 and Cheteshwar Pujara 266. Both were references to a format far removed from the one their franchise is a part of. Sehwag's best Test score is 319, and Pujara was India's 266th Test player.
Glenn Maxwell is not an orthodox batsman, so it was not surprising to see him attempt an outlandish shot off his first ball. What was remarkable, however, was his execution. As R Ashwin came round the wicket and bowled far outside the right-hand batsman's leg stump, Maxwell got into position to play the reverse swat. He took the ball from near the wide line and placed it between the fielders at cover and point to find the boundary.