A dejected Corey Anderson sat in his spot in the Eden Park dressing rooms needing some consoling.
New Zealand's new global cricketing star, poised to cash in at next month's Indian Premier League auction, felt the sharper end of international cricket on Saturday.
He'd already snared career-best figures of 5-46 when captain Brendon McCullum threw him the ball for the 50th over, with India needing 18 to win the third ODI. One wicket would make him the third New Zealander, after Shane Bond (twice) and Scott Styris, to take six in an ODI, and clinch the series for his country.
Ravindra Jadeja in full flight kept swinging, and needed two off the final ball. Anderson produced a blockholer which he could only squeeze for a single, and an epic tie which left both sides requiring oxygen.
"It's not always going to work and the poor fella is sitting in there a bit upset," McCullum said of his allrounder.
"That's the nature of having those opportunities at the death. He again learned a lot about bowling and it seems to be that he's learning quicker than anyone in international cricket about batting and bowling at the moment. We'll keep backing him. He did a great job with the ball and gave us the opportunity to win that game."
Big-hitting Anderson was promoted to No 4 with New Zealand well set, but couldn't produce his fireworks of Napier and Hamilton. One six off Ravi Ashwin was followed by a quicker ball he couldn't keep out.
McCullum had no qualms throwing Anderson the ball at the death, too, after Tim Southee had bowled out in search of late wickets, as had Hamish Bennett.
The latter was the success story in his first ODI in nearly three years, following major back surgery. The bustling fast bowler took 2-41 and was outstanding to India's gun batsman Virat Kohli, keeping him under wraps, building pressure then nicking him out for six, with a roaring celebration to match.
"It's a great story. He [Bennett] was lying on his back for six weeks after his back operation and after he bowled his first ball he said it was all worth it. That was a pretty nice feeling seeing a guy who's gone through that making his way back.
"He bowled brilliantly and that wicket of Kohli was a great sequence leading up to it. He bowled outstandingly well for a couple of overs to keep him scoreless. He's obviously pretty chuffed with how it went and we've just got to make sure he's OK for the next game."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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