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Allen pays homage to McCullum with an 'absolute cinema' of a knock

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Last updated on 17 Jan 2024 | 05:23 AM
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Allen pays homage to McCullum with an 'absolute cinema' of a knock

With 16 sixes and a score of 137, Finn Allen equalled and broke a record in New Zealand’s crushing win over Pakistan

“He’s (Allen) great to bat with, just watch it at the other end, which is what I do,” Jakob Bhula, Finn Allen’s U-19 teammate, said this way back in 2019. 

It hasn’t changed one bit. Ask Devon Conway, Tim Seifert, Daryl Mitchell, and Glenn Phillips; they’d probably say the same thing. Watch Allen bat from the non-striker’s end. Even the most famous film director, Martin Scorsese, will call it ‘absolute cinema’. 

If you leave a finger with him, he will chew your whole hand, and that’s what Pakistan experienced first-hand. Allen entered the third T20I behind two impressive knocks - 34 and 74. 

The interesting point here is not the score. 34 off 15, 74 off 41, with a strike-rate of 226 and 180.48. Only a certain few players have the prowess to keep the audience bummed to their seats - the 24-year-old Kiwi star Allen is one such individual. 

There's no doubt that he has been highly inconsistent, but when it comes off, it is almost like a fireball that could burn the whole town down. On January 17 (Wednesday), it was another occasion where Allen burnt a whole town down with his whirlwind 137, laced with 16 sixes, and in case you were wondering, a definite record-breaker. 

Allen broke two records - or rather, he broke one and equalled  another. His 16 sixes were the joint-most in an innings ever in T20I history, alongside Hazratullah Zazai, who took apart Ireland similarly mercilessly. His 137 went past an age-old Kiwi record, with Allen registering the best T20I score for New Zealand in the men’s format. 

No prize for guessing the previous record-holder! In a way, it was only fitting that someone from the Brendon McCullum-ilk took over his record and smashed it to smithereens. It is perhaps the best way to pay homage to one of the batting visionaries in the shortest format. 

When Allen lashed down Shaheen Shah Afridi for a four in the very first over, you could see carnage coming through the two innocent eyes. But then Allen ensured that the carnage was witnessed by several eyes that were watching the contest in Dunedin, with two massive sixes off the Pakistan skipper. 

At one point the ball got lost, and Shaheen was left with yet another frustrated look on his face, kicking the air. If you remember, it was a similar face with which Mitchell Starc also walked off in Australia’s opening clash against New Zealand in the last T20 World Cup. It is a face with which several new ball bowlers have walked off in the recent past. 

Since the start of 2022, only two openers (min 40 innings) have a better powerplay strike rate than Allen - Adam Rossington and Will Jacks. Allen doesn’t give two bits about his wicket in the powerplay, which is how modern-day T20I should be played by most of the T20 openers. 

In fact, he’s also scored the joint second-most sixes in the time frame for an opener, alongside Alex Hales, with 75 sixes. If you wondered where all of those sixes came from, it was the overs like the one against Haris Rauf where Allen was at his disdain best. 

It was authoritative, majestic and, more importantly, an over that scythed the confidence of the opposition bowling unit. Allen started the over against Rauf with a tall six over the midwicket boundary. 

And then, off the third ball, after hitting two more fours, Allen hit a six that has become his trademark. A shot where he hits through the line without much fuss and holds a pose.  

That is pure cinema. You are wrong if you think Allen’s appetite was filled after just the powerplay. On days where he survives beyond the powerplay stage, the stage is set for a carnage. Pakistan bowlers perhaps woke up on the wrong side of bed heading into this clash.

Allen treated Mohammad Nawaz like a club bowler, walking down and swinging him into the hills. If that wasn’t satiating, this crunching shot over midwicket followed quite shortly. And when Rauf returned, the right-handed opener took the utmost advantage to get quickly to his hundred with another shot that gave the fourth umpire a ton of work. 

“New balls,” became quite the story's theme in Dunedin, and the artist was none other than Allen. Give him sighters, he will smack them. Bowl it short, he will pump them. And if you err in line, he will crunch them like an addict on munchies.

16 sixes, and after going past McCullum’s record, Allen’s appetite was filled when he walked back after scoring 137 off just 62 balls. It wasn’t just the record, it was how he went after that record in a way that would make McCullum proud. 

Chances are that you might never see a knock like this here on from Allen, but this knock will always provide reassurance that it may happen in the future. 

Like his fellow batters on the night, all that the Pakistan bowlers did was watch it from the non-striker’s end.

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