Having seen Corey Anderson savaging his bowling attack en route to the fastest One-day International century on January 1, West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo donned his IPL hat for a moment after the match. He predicted a million-dollar future for the the 23-year-old from Christchurch and wished to see him as a fellow Super Kings in the coming Indian summer. “I hope the right people are watching him,” Bravo said.
Given that the dawn was just breaking on 2014 in India, it’s unlikely that too many right people, having perhaps partied till late hours, would have tuned in to see the 36-ball blitzkrieg in Queenstown. Anderson had to do it again, then.
Sure enough, three weeks down the line Anderson gave an IPL audition as good as any when, with Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni standing behind him, the burly all-rounder smashed a 40-ball 68 on Sunday to set up a daunting 293-run target. The knock included four such mighty hits which even Chris Gayle would have been proud of.
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Anderson, then, returned to take two crucial wickets to set up a 24-run win for the Black Caps over the World Champions. Million dollars now seems a conservative estimate, and the Super Kings, with only $3.4 million left in their purse and a full squad to build, may not even land him after all.
There’s another player in the Indian team who will be quite influential in the IPL auction in February, and unlike Dhoni he has seen Anderson’s big-hitting prowess before.
He was at the receiving end of it. Virat Kohli, whose record of always taking India to victory after scoring a ton in a chase was blemished last night, partly by Anderson, had the first glimpse of the Kiwi’s potential when he was captaining India’s junior team in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
The Indians were facing New Zealand in the semifinal and had removed their top order without much fuss. However, Anderson, batting at No.6, scored a 67-ball 70 to take the team to a competitive total. Of the four sixes that Anderson hit in his knock, the first one came off Kohli. The Royal Challengers Bangalore, with $ 5 million in their coffers, could be interested in the Kiwi, who seems to be two players for the price of one. A Chris Cairns in the making.
On the surface, there are a number of similarities between Anderson and Cairns. Like Cairns, Anderson too is a medium-fast all-rounder.
Both come from Christchurch. Both attended the same high school. Both have been injury prone. And just like Cairns had, Anderson also seems to be developing a knack of doing well against the Indians.
Before Sunday, before the New Year’s knock or the maiden Test century against Bangladesh in October, Anderson came to India on a developmental tour in August-September and scored a brilliant ton against India A under hot and humid conditions at Visakhapatnam.
The Indian Express report from that day reads: “Anderson displayed his new-found maturity, curbing his natural flashy intentions, and rather employing a strategic counterattack, one that would have made Cairns proud.”
Corey himself doesn’t shy away from the comparisons with the former Black Caps star. “Chris Cairns was always an idol of mine. I guess I base my game on what he always did. You always play in the backyard and want to be Chris Cairns and want to whack a ball and get everyone out,” Corey had said after his ODI debut in England in June last year. He has whacked the ball out of the park, and into the Taff river in Cardiff that day.
“New Zealand’s probably been calling out for (a pace bowler all-rounder) since Chris Cairns left,” Anderson added. “I want to put my hand up and be that all-rounder in that squad.”
Chris Cairns, meanwhile, says Anderson will have to do some adjustments and not always give in to expectations that the fastest century has raised.
“The man that Anderson took the record off was Shahid Afridi and I always felt Afridi never really recovered from that innings, which launched his career internationally. Afridi would play with such aggression that you always felt it was like watching someone drive faster and faster on ice. It was never sustainable,” Cairns wrote in the Fairfax NZ News.
Dhoni, he suggests, will be contemporary player the youngster could seek to emulate.
Anderson, who made 17*, 29, 0, 6, after the 47-ball 131*, seems to understand the point. “Something like that in Queenstown, you’re always going to go downhill after that,” Anderson said after Sunday’s match against India.
“It always plays on your mind a little bit. It’s cricket and you’re always going to have good days and bad days so as long as you keep on a plateau then you’ll be all right.”