The first boundary was a slightly ungainly one, but it had power behind it, lots of it. Till then, Akshar Patel, bowling the 13th over, had done well to tuck Corey Anderson up with a leg-stump line. When he erred, providing the muscular Kiwi with exactly what he was waiting for — some width — Anderson freed his arms with a double-handed backhand with his cricket bat.
The Kings XI Punjab left-arm spinner corrected his line for the next ball, but Anderson had gotten his measure by now. He cleared his right-foot and deposited Patel over mid-wicket with a six straight out of the highlight reel from his 36-ball record-breaking ton in Queenstown. Then came a repeat of the first boundary, Anderson responding to width with a backhand. Fourteen runs had now come off three deliveries, and rather than get into his young spinner’s ear, George Bailey decided to set a field for the bad ball, putting himself just in front of the sight-screen, freeing up square-leg. Patel’s next delivery drifted into Anderson’s pads, allowing the Mumbai Indians’ big-money buy to swat his fourth straight boundary in that vacant area.
The 23-year-old left-hander had muscled 20 runs off the Patel over. An over, where he began to justify Mumbai’s gamble to pay Rs. 4.5 crore for his services. The mini-assault was necessary too. After a brisk start, Mumbai had allowed the required-rate to climb to 10 an over, with 80 still needed, by the time Patel began the 13th over of their innings. By the end of it, Anderson had not only proven his worth but also gotten the home team’s run-chase back on track. And even though he would fall soon after, following a 25-ball 35, Kieron Pollard would step in to seal the deal with characteristically brutal flourish.
The Trinidadian would match Anderson’s blitz, by smashing 20 runs off Mitchell Johnson in the penultimate over to set up Mumbai’s first win for the season and to bring an end to Punjab’s unbeaten run. The five-wicket win also ensured that the defending champions had secured their citadel, one where they were insurmountable last season.
Some return on investment
When Mumbai paid Rs 4.5 crore for Anderson in February, his subcontinent experience was limited to a handful of matches for New Zealand A and a series in Bangladesh. Yes, he had ensured that Shahid Afridi’s fastest ODI century record had finally been eclipsed only a month earlier. Yes, he had shown that he possessed the skills to send the white ball into orbit. But he remained a green-horn in these alien conditions. For a better part of Mumbai’s UAE campaign, Anderson hardly continued…