The lead had already been increased to 138. Another 150 runs on the board and the opposition would be convinced that their participation in the game bore an inevitable result. The premium batsman in the side had already walloped his way to a knock of 93 and it would just be a matter of time before the match turned completely on its head.
Less than ninety minutes later, the Basin Reserve in Wellington witnessed just that, albeit in a manner they would never have considered possible. It was as though the distinct image of former star Brendan McCullum had descended over the ground and as Colin de Grandhomme surpassed his idol, the two identities interspersed as one- giving the enthusiasts a display of insane shot making and aggressive stroke play which remained reminiscent of the former master at work.
He began proceedings in the very first over he faced, smashing Miguel Cummins to successive boundaries- one that was pulled away towards fine leg and the second, a more convincing boundary towards behind square.
Having made his reputation of being a solid hitter of the ball in the domestic arena, Grandhomme was still awaiting his moment of reckoning in the international circuit. Born in Zimbabwe, the cricketer settled in New Zealand and made his Test debut against Pakistan at home last year. But neither could he seal his spot in the Test side with conviction, he also failed to get going against the spinners. All of 6 Tests old, the burly right-hander had just managed 206 runs at an average of 25.75 and in a day and age when the competition levels have reached the zenith, Grandhomme’s opportunity to shine had reached desperate levels. Sure, it would not have been a case of performing or perish but it would have done the player himself a world of good to play uninhibited after proving his mettle in his nation.
As he walked out to bat on Day 2, a cushion-padding had already been laid out for him by his teammates. Sans pressure, it was the ideal moment to unleash his fury and against a hapless West Indies side, who keep pummelling even further with every match without hopes of a reconstruction, Grandhomme achieved just that.
The full-length deliveries were patiently cantered away and the bouncers were unceremoniously whacked away, leaving no chance for any fielder. The shuffles displayed ample footwork and the wristy shots against Jason Holder were a sight to behold. As the light grey clouds, covered in fog, allowed the infiltration of the early morning beams of sunlight in India, far away in New Zealand, a cricketer was already in the noon of his form- shining bright; and offering a ray of hope to his unimpressive international career.
He reached his fifty in 44 deliveries and if that was considered a well-paced attack, what was to come further was hardly anticipated. En route three towering sixes and eleven boundaries, Grandhomme finally managed to achieve a childhood dream that all sportsman keep within them. A century in the five-day format. It always remains special and this one will certainly remain so.
It was after all the ninth fastest ton in the history of the game. Amongst the Kiwis, it was the second best- with Mccullum’s farewell 54-ball ton standing out of the crowd. However, Grandhomme’s 71-ball knock helped him overhaul the former skipper’s 74-ball hundred, which was scored way back in 2014.
Yes, it was against a floundering Windies attack. The counterattack was impressive but well, to many, it will just be a hundred scored against an unimpressive West Indies team. The gasps which should have been present were still there, but oh well; it was against a slackened West Indies team.
Unfortunate, but that’s how the game of cricket goes. Unless Grandhomme can turn into a consistent batsman for his team and constantly finish the innings with the quick runs after he has been accorded a foundation, the 29-year olds ton runs the risk of being a one-off wonder and it is up to the player to script his own destiny proceeding forward.