Corey Anderson arrived at the Indian Premier League's last chance saloon and bashed the door down.
Now the New Zealand all-rounder faces his Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum in the Indian Premier League elimination final early Thursday (NZT 2.30am) after some overdue pyrotechnics.
Anderson's unbeaten 95 off 44 balls for Mumbai helped secure a playoff spot against Chennai, for whom McCullum is expected back after flying out yesterday following the birth of his third child, Evie Mae, in Christchurch.
Mumbai required 190 off 14.3 overs against Shane Watson's Rajasthan Royals to pip them on net run rate, and they got there with help from Anderson's six booming sixes after he strode out at 19-1.
After scoring 150 runs (highest score 39) from his previous nine innings in a much-hyped debut season, Anderson had a final throw of the dice to justify his price tag of $866,000.
"Considering I thought I was probably coming home, to have a game like that was pretty cool. You always put pressure on yourself regardless of your price tag; it's just a lot more magnified over here with the money involved and the hype," he said.
"I hadn't done much throughout the tournament, I got a couple of 30s but nothing like a match-winning performance.
"This came at the perfect time and I guess that's just part of it, an innings like that can change a tournament for me and now we've got a crack at the finals we can start again."
It was bedlam at the centre of Wankhede Stadium after Anderson's team-mate Aditya Tare clouted a James Faulkner full toss for six to end the match.
"It was a fairytale finish and it's set us up and hopefully we can have a good crack at winning it. It's an unbelievable feeling.
"It's one of the loudest places I've played in, and it was the perfect situation with what was on the line."
Again it showed Anderson's sharp sense of timing, after his world record ODI century against West Indies on New Year's Day rocketed his name into IPL calculations.
Arriving at 19-1, Anderson hit his first ball from Watson to the boundary and his second into the crowd past deep mid-wicket. With Indian star Ambati Rayudu, Anderson added 81 in 5.1 overs. Watson went for 33 off two and Faulkner conceded 54 off 3.4.
"Anderson was unbelievable," his skipper Rohit Sharma said.
Thursday's playoff also pits Kiwi coaches John Wright (Mumbai) and Stephen Fleming (Chennai) against each other, after Mumbai won last year's decider.
The top-two sides, Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders, meet early tomorrow with the loser facing the winner of Mumbai-Chennai for a place in the final.
New Zealand test squad members Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham and Tim Southee will now head to West Indies after their teams were eliminated.
Taylor scored 59 runs from four innings and Neesham 42 from three knocks for bottom-placed Delhi.
Southee played three matches and took no wickets for fifth-placed Rajasthan.
Debut coach Daniel Vettori's Royal Challengers Bangalore finished second-last with a 5-9 record.
- The Dominion Post
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