NZ v SL, World Cup 2015, Group A, Christchurch February 14, 2015

New Zealand draw strength from old and new

Play 01:05
Anderson pays tribute to Vettori, McCullum

Corey Anderson was two years old during the 1992 World Cup; Daniel Vettori made his Test debut five years after that tournament. The opening match of the 2015 World Cup was a day for the evergreen warhorse of New Zealand cricket and one of the whipper-snappers who is evolving as part of the new generation.

On his home ground, in front of family and friends, Anderson clubbed 75 off 46 balls in one of his most mature international innings. Given worldwide acclaim for his (briefly held) world record 36-ball hundred against West Indies, he continues to provide evidence that he is becoming a well-rounded batsman.

Earlier in the season, on this same ground, he made 81 to guide New Zealand to a tight victory against Sri Lanka and now this innings ensured New Zealand did not falter when, almost out of nowhere, Jeevan Mendis plucked two wickets in two balls.

There was a calmness about Anderson when he arrived alongside Grant Elliott. Although he took Tillakaratne Dilshan for a six, he was largely sedate for a significant period time as he reached 27 off 25 balls. Then the pedal was pushed - with the aid of a woeful missed catch by Mendis - as his next 48 runs came from 21 deliveries.

"We've all been put in positions over the last 12 months to adapt to what we have to deal with," Anderson said. "Everyone has chipped in. It's all about knowing the situation you are in. It's nice having someone like Grant out there who has played a lot of cricket. We knew we had Ronchi in the shed and how much damage he can do at the end. If one of us was in at the end we knew we could put a better than par score on the board.

"If the guys up the top set a platform, and they have done in the last 12 months, it makes it a lot easier to tee off," he said. "But if we are put in early we are good enough to get ourselves out of it."

At the other end of the experience scale stands Vettori, who has shed blood and sweat to recover from severe Achilles injuries to have a final crack at the World Cup - a tournament he was first involved in as an unused member of the 15-man squad in England in 1999. Using the subtle changes of pace and flight that have been a feature of his whole career, he made Dilshan pop a return catch then found Mahela Jayawardene's edge.

The pre-tournament consensus has been that this will not be an event for spinners, but this pitch at Hagley Oval turned more than expected, leaving both Vettori and Rangana Herath as significant weapons. This performance from Vettori was an example of why the New Zealand management gave him every chance to make this tournament.

"You know, he's just so good. It's pretty easy to sum him up." Anderson said. "He's played a lot of cricket. He's smart, and he knows how to get guys out. He's just a clever bowler. You'd love him to bowl more than 10, especially on that wicket. It was holding quite a bit and it was tough to get away the spinners. So yeah, he bowled unbelievably."

Vettori's spell helped to ensure that New Zealand began with a victory. Defeat would have been far from terminal, but it would certainly have burst a bubble. "We just wanted to keep what we've begun like a juggernaut rolling forward," Anderson said. They could not have rolled forward any better.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments