Big-hitting New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum fell just short of scoring the fastest double century in Test history on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Christchurch.
In the form of his life, McCullum put his side in a commanding position, blasting 195 off 134 balls as the Black Caps reached 7-429 at stumps.
The 33-year-old skipper blazed away for 18 fours and 11 sixes, christening New Zealand’s eighth Test venue, Hagley Oval, in style in 200 memorable minutes.
He had plenty of time to beat the double-ton speed record of 153 balls, set by compatriot Nathan Astle against England 13 years ago, also in Christchurch.
And he punched the air with frustration when caught by Dimuth Karunaratne at long off, handing offspinner Tharindu Kaushal a memorable first Test wicket – even if it came at a fearful cost of 117 runs off 15 overs.
“The man is an x-factor player. He has the ability to dominate, to dismantle bowlers very quickly and change the tempo and the way an innings is heading very quickly,” New Zealand batting coach Craig McMillan said.
“He’s the most domineering and destructive player that’s played for New Zealand that I’ve seen.”
Having been sent in on a green surface, the Black Caps limped to 3-88 just after lunch before McCullum strode to the crease.
He put on 126 for the fourth wicket with Kane Williamson (54) and 153 with James Neesham (85), the latter a fifth-wicket record for New Zealand against Sri Lanka.
Five more runs would have allowed McCullum to match the exclusive feat of Australian Michael Clarke, who scored a triple century and three double tons in 2012.
McCullum could at least reflect on a host of other milestones as he walked off with the scoreboard reading 5-367.
He beat his own record for the fastest Test century by a Black Cap. His 74 balls faced was four less than it took him during his previous innings a month ago, when he went on to reach 202 against Pakistan in Sharjah.
The 33-year-old became also the first New Zealander to notch 1000 Test runs in a calendar year.
Earlier, openers Hamish Rutherford (18) and Tom Latham (27) made sound starts. The recalled Rutherford’s lean trot continued, having failed to pass 50 in his last 13 Test innings.
Ross Taylor was run out for seven when he slipped mid-pitch in the first over after lunch, while Williamson fell just before tea, ending an innings which lost momentum when McCullum took charge.
BEST OF 2014
1431 – Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, average 79.5)
1164 – Brendon McCullum (NZ, 72.8)
1096 – David Warner (Australia, 64.5)
1064 – Younis Khan (Pakistan, 66.5)
MOST SIXES IN TESTS
100 – Adam Gilchrist (Australia)
98 – Chris Gayle (West Indies)
97 – Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
92 – Brendon McCullum (NZ)
91 – Virender Sehwag (India)
88 – Brian Lara (West Indies)
87 – Chris Cairns (NZ)