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One consistent batsman made the telling difference between India and New Zealand in the recently concluded One-Day International (ODI) series. Abhijit Banare looks at the career-defining performance of Kane Williamson.
Either MS Dhoni is right in blaming his bowlers for below par performance or the New Zealand batting has done something extraordinarily right in outclassing the bowlers. If you are an Indian, this is the right time to jump in to the frenzy discussing the former part. If you are a New Zealand fan, then surely Kane Williamson is someone you’re going to praise. New Zealand batting was dismal across formats not more than a year ago. But Williamson is in the centre of what seems to be a much improved Kiwi batting line-up. And his performance in the recent series, scoring 361 runs at an average of 72.20 shows us that he has come off age. Williamson’s batting has reassured the team management, here’s a batsman who’s not just good enough in one format, but an asset who can bat at the No 3 position across formats.
Williamson can well be compared with Virat Kohli purely on the way he bats and the way he paces his innings. If there’s any difference, Kohli has the ability to muscle the ball, whereas Williamson draws more significance to his shots through timing. There were occasions where he was uncomfortable against the short balls, but against a lesser attack like India, Williamson even gathered confidence to take them head-on by attempting the pull shots successfully.
This performance is not just about winning a series, but instilling confidence in the batsman that he can be one of the best in the world. Intriguingly, many batsmen seem to find their groove against the Indian team. Just about a month ago, Quinton de Kock who slammed three consecutive centuries against India and today he is indispensable to South Africa’s limited overs side. At 23, Williamson has flourished in a country where cricket is not the most preferred sport. His performances though, wouldn’t have been possible if not for some fine contributions by other batsmen in the side.
Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill have all chipped in to ensure that his innings ends up in a win. For instance, Kohli would not have been celebrated, if the centuries had not resulted in a win. The next goal for him is not just perform well for New Zealand in Tests but also convert them in to wins.
Temperament and technique:
The reason why Williamson is fun watching is because of his fluent shots. One of the strategies for New Zealand in this series was denying wickets to the spin twins, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Williamson at the top was like a wall in implementing this strategy and the perfect batsman to execute it. One of the shots which he played was using his feet frequently against the spinner. There were hardly any shots which were out of brute strength. Instead, Williamson timed the ball to perfection and even the sixes flew sweetly off the bat. Just like Kohli, Williamson doesn’t leave any opportunity to pick the singles and twos.
The fifth consecutive fifty means, Williamson has equalled Martin Guptill and Roger Twose for most consecutive ODI fifties for New Zealand. But heading the list for New Zealand in this category is Andrew Jones who has six consecutive fifties. However, Williamson has the most runs scored by a player in a five-match bilateral series for New Zealand. He has also equaled Yasir Hamid’s record of five half-centuries in a five-match series.
1st ODI: This was first of the four match-winning partnerships he had with Taylor, putting on 121 runs with him and helping his team regain stability. Williamson scored 71 runs.
2nd ODI: Guptill struggled yet, hung on to essay a fine knock, during the process, Williamson shepherded the team through. At the other end, Guptill got in the groove and added a few quick runs. Once again, he was the glue that held the innings together, before Taylor hit a quickfire half-century. Williamson scored 77 runs.
3rd ODI: Guptill shared a big partnership with Williamson and this team around, Guptill was more aggressive of the two, while Williamson was content in anchoring the innings and keep the scoreboard moving.
4th ODI: Chasing the target of 278, Williamson along with Taylor just took the match away from India with that third-wicket partnership. His innings of 60 and the 130-run stand helped the team register a comfortable victory after Taylor scored a century.
5th ODI: Having been in sublime form in the past matches, Williamson was in his own comfort zone taking on the bowlers and scoring at ease.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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