Corey Anderson has been a bit of an enigma this season for the Mumbai Indians, not quite finding his mojo with the bat or ball, and leaving everyone wondering if all that money spent on him was worth it.
T20 cricket, however, is a format which can make you a hero from a zero with one swing of the bat, or a couple, or, you know, maybe a few more, like Anderson did on Sunday night.
In the most thrilling IPL match you will ever see – seriously, this cannot be topped – the Mumbai Indians beat the Rajasthan Royals by five wickets, chasing down a target of 189 in 14.4 overs to sneak through to the playoffs at the expense of their opponents.
Needing 190 from 14.3 overs to qualify, the Mumbai Indians, courtesy that big left-handed, six-hitting, willow-wielder, smoked their way to 189 for five in 14.3 overs, to tie the scores, before pandemonium reigned in the next ball.
Before that final ball drama, there was some unbelievable hitting from Anderson, which even put the heroics from Yusuf Pathan and KKR last night to shade, with the New Zealander, having an awful debut IPL, almost single-handedly taking the match to the death, a match which was decided in a beyond dramatic 15th over.
Thanks to Anderson (95 n.o., 44b, 8x4, 6x6) and Ambati Rayudu (30, 10b, 5x4, 1x6), MI brought down what seemed an impossible equation to nine from three balls to qualify. James Faulkner was given the unenviable job to bowl that deciding over, with Anderson only able to take a single off the first delivery.
Rayudu, though, thumped a six off the next to make it 2 needed off one for MI to qualify. Faulkner kept the third ball of his over to just one run -- Rayudu, in tears after running himself out while going for a desperate second -- meaning MI had got 189 in 14.3 overs, not the needed 190.
Some of the Royals players in the bench started celebrating thinking they had survived an almighty scare, only for the mathematicians and net run rate calculators to throw another googly – if MI could score a boundary off the next ball to finish the win off with a big margin, then they would qualify.
Everyone took their time to get settled, making sure they knew what was needed, and then in came Faulkner to deliver the defining delivery of IPL 2014 so far, a delivery which was a full toss on leg-stump, allowing Aditya Tare, off his first delivery, to smoke the ball over the ropes and cue delirium, pandemonium, ecstasy, frenzy and bedlam as MI got home on a better net run rate after tying for 14 points with the Royals.
A day after seeing one of the great IPL innings, it just did not look like there would be room for one more – wrong, notion, definitely, it turned out to be.
Anderson, sent in at No. 3, with openers Lendl Simmons (12, 8b, 3x4) and Michael Hussey (22, 11b, 1x4, 2x6) and six-hitting machine Kieron Pollard falling relatively early, invoked the spirit of Yusuf Pathan, with a little less brutality, a touch more nous, but equal effectiveness, to smoke the Royals, shell-shocked and stunned, out of the park.
Everything that Anderson flayed turned into a boundary, with the New Zealander turning impossible into probable, and then maybe possible, and eventually "now we gotta do it, we absolutely have to."
After five overs of the innings, MI needed 129 off 57, with Anderson just warming up. The willow was unleashed from the left-hander, from there, with the equation just going lower and lower – 86 off 33, Rohit Sharma fell a little after that, 70 off 27, it still isn't going to happen is it?
Those hopes of an unbelievable qualifying victory increased at 51 from 21 needed at the end of the 11th over, with MI on 139 for four.
The Royals just could not believe what was going on, buckling alarmingly under the pressure, with even experienced heads like Shane Watson looking like a deer in the headlights, as the skipper went for 18 runs in over number 12.
At 33 needed off 15, it suddenly looked a lot more possible, especially with Anderson smoking everything and Rayudu giving the New Zealander tremendous company.
Kevon Cooper and Pravin Tambe could not quite restrict the MI juggernaut, either, leaving the home side needing nine from three, with the next four deliveries going down in history as some of the most dramatic you will ever see in the IPL.
Earlier, Sanju Samson and Karun Nair turned on the style – not quite to Corey Anderson's tempo – to set a daunting target for the Mumbai Indians.
Watson's nightmare game started off with the bat, with the RR skipper, looking to get back into form, soaking up 18 deliveries for his eight runs, and with it putting the pressure on the rest if his batsmen.
Samson, though, was in a zone of his own, playing those shots which just made you want to stand up and applaud and looking like he was in his own time zone, with the ability to stop and bend time to his own will.
The Royals youngster had Karun Nair, in at No. 3, with Samson and Watson opening, for company at the other end, and the two Malayalam-speaking youngsters just tonked the MI bowlers quite brilliantly.
The partnership of 100 from 57 balls gave you a small idea of what to expect in the future, probably in India colours, as Samson (74, 47b, 7x4, 3x6) and Nair (50, 27b, 7x4, 2x6) set the game up perfectly for Brad Hodge and James Faulkner to go crazy in the end, which they did reasonably enough, to take the Royals to a formidable 189.
But nothing could prepare you for what followed, nothing!