Corey Anderson may have risen to global attention for his world-record fastest century last January, but he had to rein in those natural instincts as he composed a match-winning 81 from 96 balls against Sri Lanka, Anderson said. New Zealand were 101 for 5, chasing 219 for victory when Anderson struck up partnerships with Luke Ronchi, then Nathan McCullum, to take New Zealand to within 10 runs of the win.
Self-restraint did not come easy to him, Anderson said. "You know you've got something that a lot of guys don't have - you know you can almost start playing aggressively from ball one. To try and pull that in, look at what the scoreboard is saying, and look at what the guys around you have done, all takes a little bit of time. I guess I'm still finding my way in the international scene as well. I haven't played a lot of games, but an innings like that does a lot for me."
Anderson's 131 not out off 47 balls last January had earned him a reputation as one of the most explosive young batsmen in the world, and the innings that followed that had also been high-octane affairs, including the 68 not out off 40 balls against India. However, this match required him to stray from the style of play now expected from him, he said.
"I've had plenty of chats with Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor and others, about playing these sorts of innings. When you have an innings like I did last year, you tend to think you've got to play that out all the time. That's what people expect. I think it's more about taking your ego out of it. Brendon said he suffered a bit from it when he played an explosive innings it at the IPL curtain-raiser. It's nice to have those guys about me who have been through it. To have played a more mature innings when it was needed was pleasing."
New Zealand were still 70 shy of victory when Luke Ronchi was dismissed, but Anderson and Nathan McCullum put on 60 together to all but ensure victory. Nathan McCullum finished on 25 not out, and had encouraged Anderson to continue playing carefully.
"There's moments where you think that I'd love to go down the ground and hit a six, but you've got to think about it," Anderson said. "Your mate down the other end helps you out as well. Nathan came down a few times when I looked like I was either getting tired, or wanting to go for it, and I reined it in a little bit."
Anderson had lost his place in the Test team after he picked up a groin strain ahead of the Boxing Day Test. He had not had rich returns with the bat in the UAE, but was still preferred over James Neesham in New Zealand's squad for the World Cup. He had time to play himself in against Sri Lanka, because Brendon McCullum's 22-ball 51 had ensured New Zealand were far ahead of the asking rate.
"I've lacked a little bit of form with the international stuff, and I guess the last time I've played was about three weeks ago. It was nice to be out in the middle for a period of time and not have that pressure to have to go after the bowling, or make a massive play. It was easy to stick to a tempo and try to take it as deep as we could.
"It was pretty pleasing to know our bowlers had done the job, and the way Brendon came out of the gate put us well ahead of the game. Those wickets that we lost didn't affect us as much as they could have if we'd had a slow start."