McCullum makes it three in three

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An explosive and dominant half-century from Brendon McCullum, his second in three games, ensured the Otago Volts go into the lucrative Champions League Twenty20 group stages on the back of three successive qualification wins, the latest a comprehensive five-wicket defeat of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

An explosive and dominant half-century from Brendon McCullum, his second in three games, ensured the Otago Volts go into the lucrative Champions League Twenty20 group stages on the back of three successive qualification wins, the latest a comprehensive five-wicket defeat of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

It was another imposing all-round performance by the New Zealand franchise as they maintained their twelve-game unbeaten run in the shortest format, and in the process, unquestionably establish themselves as the tournament's dark horses.

McCullum's typically authoritative unbeaten innings of 67 succeeded a disciplined bowling display by the Volts' potent seamers and spinners lead by another McCullum – Nathan, as they restricted the Sunrisers to just 143/5 – that proved to be a substandard total which gave their attack little chance.

Both openers, Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford, set the tone with a brisk opening stand of twenty-seven as Ishant Sharma (0/40) saw his three overs bludgeoned to all corners of the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.

Rutherford (27), in particular, took a fancy to the bowling of the Sunrisers attack as he struck five boundaries before their momentum was checked temporarily by the impressive Dale Steyn, who accounted for both batsmen.

However, McCullum was quickly into his stride and after Parthiv Patel missed the chance to stump him while on twenty-six in the 8th over, the wicket-keeper took full advantage as he bludgeoned five fours and as many maximums to guide his side home with over 20 deliveries left.

Otago advance to Group A along with Mumbai Indians, Perth Scorchers, Highveld Lions and Rajasthan Royals.

The defeat is a setback to the Sunrisers preparations and the margin of victory could have been a lot greater if it wasn't for a brisk half-century from JP Duminy after the IPL franchise were asked to bat first.

The South-African recruit was the mainstay of an innings which failed to ignite thanks to the loss of regular wickets and tight bowling by the potent Volts attack. With Ian Butler rested, Nathan McCullum was thrown the new-ball and the decision reaped instant dividends as he dismissed both dangermen Parthiv Patel and captain Shikhar Dhawan during an exceptional spell.

Left-armer Neil Wanger provided an able ally as the Hyderabad batsmen simply weren't given the opportunity to free their arms in the powerplay. McCullum finished with figures of 2/23 and as a result pipped his brother to the man of the match award.

Duminy went about rebuilding the innings with all-rounder Cameron White, who was given an opportunity in the middle-order, as the pair put on forty before the Australian picked out Brendon McCullum at cover off Wagner for 25.

That didn't deter Duminy, however, as he went about accumulating during a mature innings before Darren Sammy (26) added some much needed impetus in the closing stages with a couple of hefty blows to lift his side towards a competitive total – or so they thought.

Speaking after the game, Volts skipper McCullum was inevitably delighted with his sides' performances and is relishing the opportunity to battle it out for the trophy.

"We had to rest some of our players because of injury so we wanted to try some new tactics. I am really pleased with how we played today. I think the conditions suited our way of playing. I am happy with the whole team and looking forward to the next stage." he said.

After several days and games of enthralling qualification games, the tournament proper gets underway on Saturday in Jaipur.

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