Wednesday was the first day of the New Year. For most people, January 1 morning is a bit groggy after previous night’s celebrations, which mark the farewell to the previous year and welcome the arrival of the New Year. For the New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson, it will be a day to cherish forever. Until he completed the act, he probably didn’t realize that he was breaking a 17-year old batting record in the ODIs, which had always appeared daunting to most batsmen. When Shahid Afridi of Pakistan tore the Sri Lankan bowling apart in an ODI game played in 1996 and scored a whirlwind 37-ball hundred, very few people would have thought that such feat could ever be exceeded by another batsman.
The occasion was the third ODI between the New Zealand and West Indies at the Queenstown Events Center. The rains had reduced the match to a 21-over contest and on a day as bleak as this, West Indies did not want to bat first, after winning the toss and therefore, they chose to take the field. Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptil came out to face the first over from Sunil Narine. Considering that the match time was drastically curtailed, 5 runs off the first over was a good beginning for the West Indies. The second over from Holder was even better as Guptil got out, though Holder’s remaining two balls were hit for boundaries by new batsman Brendon McCullum. Rampaul was brought for the third over but he was thrashed for 22. The West Indians suddenly got alerted, as the Kiwis looked like mounting an assault. Narine came back to bowl the fifth over of the innings and was rewarded with McCullum’s wicket as the New Zealander holed out to Simmons in the deep. In the eighth over, Taylor was out and New Zealand were 86/3. Rider completed his half century in 23 balls and Anderson was keeping him good company. New Zealand reached 104/3 at the end of the tenth over at a very good average of 10.4 runs an over. Anderson took 10 runs from 5 balls of the eleventh over. Then the fireworks began.
In the next over from Holder, Anderson collected 11 runs off the 3 balls that he faced, smashed Sunil Narine for 4 sixes in the thirteenth and hoisted Rampaul for another 4 sixes in the fifteenth over. By this time Anderson had already scored 84 runs in 29 balls with 11 sixes. At the other end, Jesse Ryder was also celebrating the onset of the New Year with a powerfully scored 78 off 39 balls. But more was yet to come. At the end of over no. 17, Anderson was 95 in 35 balls and since he had taken a single off the last ball, he was about to face the first ball of the eighteenth over. Anderson was unstoppable, as he first broke Shahid Afridi’s 17 year old record by hoisting miller to a huge six and then carried on further to score 11 runs off the next three deliveries. Pakistan’s Afridi had scored a 37 ball century against Sri Lanka in 1996. The fateful eighteenth over yielded 27 runs and brought Ryder too, on the verge of a quick century. Ryder completed a 46-ball hundred in the last 3 balls of the nineteenth over. At the end of the allotted 21 overs New Zealand finished with 283/4 with Corey Anderson remaining unbeaten on 131 off 47 balls. West Indies lost the match by 159 runs, as they could only score 124 runs in their 21 overs.
The day belonged to Anderson for his merciless assault, which was studded with 14 sixes. Other than breaking Afridi’s record, he also became the third highest six-hitter in an ODI innings; after Shane Watson’s 15 and Rohit Sharma’s 16 sixes. In a way Jesse Ryder was a bit unlucky and played second fiddle to Anderson, though his blistering knock will also go to the record books as the sixth quickest hundred. Not many players have made ODI centuries in 47 balls. Anderson and Ryder turned the game on its head by notching up a partnership of 191 for the fourth wicket in mere 75 balls. It was a simultaneous exhibition of lifetime performances from two cricketers at the same time, although it was Anderson, who walked away with the limelight for creating history.