Providence, Guyana: Nathan McCullum knows what it's like to be hit for six but he was the one doing the damage as New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in a thrilling Twenty20 World Cup opener here on Friday.
New Zealand, needing three runs to win with two balls to spare, saw McCullum, better known as an off-spinner, loft fast bowler Lasith Malinga for six over long-off.Man-of-the match McCullum's superb shot saw New Zealand finish on 139 for eight in reply to Sri Lanka's 135 for six.
It capped a memorable day for McCullum, whose unbeaten 16 came off six balls with 13 of his runs, including a four and a six, coming in the last over. His innings was played in a match where his younger brother Brendon, renowned as one of the world's best Twenty20 batsman, was out for nought.
His batting exploits were made all the more notable in that the man who he struck for boundaries was Malinga.
"I've been there a couple of times and a couple of times I've been on the other end of it," Nathan McCullum said. "It's good to finally get one go our way."
McCullum's batting exploits were made all the more notable in that the man who he struck for boundaries was Malinga, whose unorthodox, 'slingshot' action had often confounded many of the world's best batsmen.
"He's very good at that (bowling at the death) and he doesn't often miss but luckily he missed one today and we were able to get it away."
Earlier McCullum was given the new ball, as was New Zealand off-spinner Dipak Patel at the 1992 World Cup, and found himself bowling to Tillakaratne Dilshan, player of the tournament at last year's World Twenty20 in England.
But McCullum held his nerve and returned impressive figures of one wicket for 17 runs from his three overs.
"I've come up against a few people like that lately," McCullum said. "I was opening against West Indies with Chris Gayle the other day. It's a daunting task but something I enjoy, I've done it a few times now and I enjoy the challenge at the top."