The ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam might be among the more picturesque settings in the country but on days when the blazing Vizag sun is at its optimum,it can turn into the most unforgiving of cauldrons. Monday was one such day. The India A and New Zealand A players who took the field,not to the forget the two umpires,will certainly bear testimony to that.
It wasn’t surprising to see a number of them getting rid of their soaked shirts before they had left the field of play at the end of each session or the additional time spent by a majority near the drinks trolley. Everyone,except Corey Anderson of course. This,despite the fact that he had ended up spending a major part of the day braving the heat in the middle,that too while donning the entire gamut of his batting gear.
And while the Indian contingent lay strewn on the outfield near the dressing-room,cooling their battered bodies,Anderson looked fresh enough to do it all over again,even indulging in a few quick laps with his teammates. Earlier in the day,Anderson had combined with fellow left-hander Anton Devcich to first resurrect the Kiwi innings before blasting a power-packed century. It was Devich who top-scored though with 115 as the visitors finished Day One with a healthy 300 for 8.
It’s unlikely that the burly all-rounder from Christchurch would have lasted a challenge as arduous some two years ago. For,till the start of the 2011-12 domestic season back home,Anderson’s was the quintessential tale of a child prodigy having lost his way. Earmarked as a potential superstar at just 16 for his state Canterbury,he failed to live up to the lofty expectations and his fall was rapid.
The turnaround came via a shift to Northern Districts and more importantly,a stringent fitness regime that produced staggering results. Not only was Anderson 20kg lighter,he looked to have finally realized his potential. Within a year,he was making his international debut for the Black Caps before making an impression worthy enough of comparisons to Chris Cairns that he was drawing during the Champions Trophy in England earlier this year.
And in the second unofficial Test,Anderson provided an exhibition of his impressive batting repertoire. The pitch might not have been a very challenging one,especially by the time he got his eye in. But Anderson had walked in with the Kiwis in a precarious position,having lost their top-order to Dhawal Kulkarni’s incisive new-ball burst.
It is here that Anderson displayed his new-found maturity,curbing his natural flashy intentions,and rather employing a strategic counterattack,one that would have made Cairns proud. With the new-ball having lost its sting,he ensured that his forceful shots were played without any half measures. And the power generated from his broad shoulders was good enough to send the ball scurrying past the in-field repeatedly.
Anderson and Devcich were tested again,post the lunch-break as Kulkarni,who had accounted for Neil Broom with the perfect outswinger and nabbed Carl Cachopa with a bouncer earlier,returned for an inspired spell. But having safely negotiated India A’s best bowler on the day,Anderson decided to open up,targeting the spinners from word go. He swatted any ball that provided him with width,while using his long frame and resulting reach while playing an array of slog-sweeps,especially off left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv. He also used his feet against them while depositing Abhishek Nayar’s medium-pace over the sight-screen with a six reminiscent of his role model.
Devcich in contrast never really looked like he was on top of the bowling and even survived a couple of dropped catches. But to his credit,he plugged away,nicking a number of boundaries past the slip-region while also playing a handful of fluent drives and flicks. Having come together at 43/4,the two added 165 in quick time.
It was really Anderson’s controlled assault that battered the morale of the India A attack,while also establishing a crucial platform for his team. The 22-year-old is nippy off the wicket with his left-arm pace and isn’t shy of testing batsmen on their back-foot. And Anderson should be a vital cog in the Kiwis’s plans to overcome the strong India A batting line-up come Tuesday.
Briefscores: New Zealand A 300/8 in 89 overs (Corey Anderson 100,Anton Devich 115; Dhawal Kulkarni 2/26,Jalaj Saxena 2/69) vs India A.