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The eight overseas players from the very first IPL match

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IPL_Cricket_Indian_Premier_LeagueThe advent of the Indian Premier League in 2008 saw foreign players make a beeline for the few, coveted spots in the eight franchises. With astronomical amounts on offer at the player auction, a host of big names confirmed their availability, hoping to be among the four permissible non-Indians in the starting XI of their respective teams.

The first match was played on April 18, 2008 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium between hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders, with the latter winning by a humongous margin of 140 runs after amassing 222/3. Ten years since the start of the world’s most sought-after T20 league, here is a look back at the eight foreign players who were part of that seminal opening game, and where they are now.

Brendon McCullum (bought by KKR at $700,000)

The star of the evening for the Knight Riders was New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, though he did not keep wickets in this match. After Rahul Dravid elected to field first, McCullum blazed into the record books with an eye-popping 158* from 73 balls, lit with ten fours and 13 sixes, and shared half-century stands with each of his four partners. This was then the highest individual score in T20 cricket, and remained the highest in the IPL till 2013.

McCullum would prove to be one of New Zealand’s most reliable performers in the 2010s. He was named Test captain in 2012-13, and a year later, became the first New Zealander to score a Test triple hundred. Though he retired from international cricket in 2015-16, McCullum remains active on the domestic T20 circuit, and currently plies his trade for the Royal Challengers - his fifth IPL team after the Knight Riders, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Lions.

Ricky Ponting (bought by KKR at $400,000)

With McCullum running amok at the other end, two-time World Cup-winning captain Ricky Ponting only had to provide sound support. In the course of a second-wicket partnership worth 51, ‘Punter’ scored a run-a-ball 20, which was the second highest score of the match. He later pouched two catches in the slips. It was quite fascinating for the spectators to watch him play under Sourav Ganguly, his opposite number in the 2003 World Cup final.

Arguably the best Australian batsman of the modern era, Ponting captained his country till the end of the 2011 World Cup, and continued to play for two more seasons. His last international was the Perth Test against South Africa in 2012-13. In 2013, he returned to the IPL after five years, this time playing for the Mumbai Indians, whom he coached from 2014 to 2016. He is currently the coach of the Delhi Daredevils, and is also a regular in various commentary panels.

David Hussey (bought by KKR at $625,000)

Despite having played only one international game, David Hussey’s status as a domestic stalwart, coupled with his value as an all-rounder, attracted the attention of the Knight Riders. Though he scored only 12 runs from as many balls, he was part of a rapid third-wicket stand of 60 with McCullum that deflated the Royal Challengers.

Hussey represented Australia in the limited-overs formats for five years, and was also part of the side at the 2011 World Cup. He moved to the Kings XI Punjab in 2012, and then to the Chennai Super Kings in 2014. He announced his retirement following the 2016-17 Big Bash League, and is currently involved with social causes and commentary duties.

Mohammad Hafeez (bought by KKR at $100,000)

Snapped up by the Knight Riders at the second round of auctions, Pakistani all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez faced only three deliveries, but helped McCullum in an unbeaten fourth-wicket partnership of 50 from just 17 balls that put the finishing touches on the carnage. His off-spin was not required, as the Royal Challengers crumbled against pace for 82 in 15.1 overs.

Hafeez made his international debut back in 2003, but it took him nearly eight years to cement a regular spot. He is still very much a part of the Pakistani set-up, and was in the eleven that won the Champions Trophy in 2017. He most recently appeared for Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League last month.

Jacques Kallis (bought by RCB at $900,000)

Jacques Kallis walked in at 9/2 in the third over of the chase, with his team desperately hoping for him to fire. However, it was not to be, as the South African veteran was third out at 24, caught at mid-on by Murali Kartik off Ajit Agarkar immediately after hitting a six over extra cover. Earlier in the game, he caught Ganguly off Zaheer Khan and took the wicket of Ponting, but he was taken apart by McCullum, going for 48 runs in his four overs.

One of the greatest cricketers to grace the game, Kallis finished his Test career in 2013-14 with the third highest number of runs, while his last ODI came a few months later. Kallis remained a mainstay for the Royal Challengers till 2010, before going over to the Knight Riders from 2011 to 2014. He coached the Knight Riders in 2015, and is currently involved with his Foundation, which provides opportunities for disadvantaged students to attend established cricket schools.

Cameron White (bought by RCB at $500,000)

Australian all-rounder Cameron White had a nightmarish outing, as his leg-spin was tonked for 24 runs in the only over he bowled, the 15th of the innings. He could do little better with the bat, managing only six runs before being caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha off Agarkar. Interestingly, White held the record for the highest T20 score before McCullum - he had smashed 141* in 70 balls for Somerset against Worcestershire at Worcester in 2006.

White, who made his international debut in 2005-06 and is considered to be a limited-overs specialist, was last seen in Australian colors in the home ODI series against England earlier this year. After three years with the Royal Challengers, he was picked by the Deccan Chargers in 2011, and then by the SunRisers Hyderabad in 2013, which was the last time he played in the IPL. He is a regular for Victoria and the Melbourne Renegades on the Aussie domestic scene.

Mark Boucher (bought by RCB at $450,000)

Kallis was joined in the Royal Challengers eleven by his good friend and South African teammate Mark Boucher. He could only look on from behind the stumps as McCullum wrought havoc, and was dismissed by Ganguly for seven as his team hurtled towards a rout. Like Kallis, he played for the Royal Challengers for three years before joining the Knight Riders for a solitary season in 2011.

Boucher holds the record for the most number of Test dismissals, 555 in a career spanning more than 14 years. He had an unfortunate end to his competitive cricket career, after being struck by a bail in his left eye while keeping against Somerset on South Africa’s 2012 tour of England. He was named as the coach of South African domestic side Titans in 2016, a role that he continues till date, and is also a vocal advocate of wildlife protection.

Ashley Noffke (bought by RCB at $30,000)

Ashley Noffke had a last-minute entry into the Royal Challengers squad as a replacement for his fellow Australian Nathan Bracken, who was ruled out due to a knee injury. Noffke, a pace bowling all-rounder who made his debut for Australia in 2007-08, conceded 40 runs from his four overs and took the wicket of Hussey. Coming in at a hopeless 38/6, he scored nine before getting run out. This was the only IPL game he ever played.

Back in 2001, a then 24-year-old Noffke was part of Australia’s touring Ashes squad, and went on to play for four different English counties throughout the 2000s. He had a skin cancer scare in 2008-09, but made a successful comeback. In 2009-10, he shifted his domestic team from Queensland to Western Australia, and retired in the following season before being appointed as Queensland coach. He is presently the assistant coach of the Australian women’s team.

 

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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