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Kane Williamson has been compared to Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Steven Smith as modern-day greats Getty Images

Date: November 6, 2010, almost six years before the current series. Venue: Ahmedabad: First session of the Day 3 of first Test between India and New Zealand was in progress. The visitors had done a decent job till then; lost just a single wicket of Ross Taylor and were heading towards Lunch without any further damage. India s spin-twins Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha were bowling well in tandem and testing the duo of Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder. The former, who was past his fifty, was looking solid until a delivery from Ojha in the 22nd over of the day flummoxed him. Found short of his crease, McCullum left the ground without waiting for the third Umpire s verdict. New Zealand were 4 for 137 in reply to India s 487 at this point.

There is nothing special about this moment, which is definitely not worthy of being mentioned in a piece. However, what followed after this dismissal is nothing short of being magical. Kane Williamson, the man on his Test debut, took his nervous steps towards the field. Nervous for obvious reasons; he was realising his dream of playing Test cricket and also because the start to his international career till then was not exactly how he would have ideally wanted. The world had seen this guy from Tauranga bat six times before in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). In three of those six innings, he was out without scoring. Once he did not get a chance to bat and in one of the remaining two, he hit a hundred against Bangladesh.

So, even though he was a shaky starter, that one hundred in those six outings made him a promising prospect. Coming back to the Ahmedabad Test, Williamson went on to score a Test ton on a turning Ahmedabad pitch on his debut, establishing the notion that here was a player to watch out for in the future. But this innings alone did not make him special. Yes, it did result in him being touted as the next big thing in world cricket. But he was always special, and former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori would vouch for it.

When Williamson made his senior debut for Bay of Plenty, It was Vettori who got him for a second-ball duck. And yet again, the score notwithstanding, the moment was special, for here was a young teenage boy, playing amongst the men. Yes, Williamson was all of 15 then and the year was 2005. The right people were saying some pretty amazing things about him so I definitely kept an eye out for him and watched him develop as a player,” Vettori recalled years later in an interview. He did develop, as Vettori said, into a world class cricketer.

The Rise

After that hundred on Test debut, the expectations from Williamson increased manifolds. And though he did reasonably well in the first three years of international cricket, he did not quite set the stage on fire, as the statistics suggest:

Performance in Tests till December 2013
Matches: 29 Runs: 1794 HS: 135 Avg: 35.88 100s: 4 Wkts: 22
Performance in ODIs till December 2013
Matches: 47 Runs: 1275 HS: 145* Avg: 35.41 100s: 3 Wkts: 17

By the end of 2013, Williamson was averaging in the mid-thirties. But things started changing with the onset of 2014. Runs started flowing in thick and fast and at the same time, his reputation as one of the best batsmen in the world also got established. He had four Test hundreds in first three years of international cricket. He got four in 2014 alone. Five came in 2015, including his career best till date, unbeaten 242 against Sri Lanka at Wellington. Soon he was topping the batting charts in the ICC Rankings and was being put in the same bracket of Virat Kohli, Steven Smith and Joe Root his illustrious contemporaries who too are touted to become legends by the time they retire.

Performance in Tests from December 2013 till present day
Matches: 23 Runs: 2599 HS: 242* Avg: 72.19 100s: 10 Wkts: 7
Performance in ODIs from December 2013 till present day
Matches: 46 Runs: 2391 HS: 1423 Avg: 56.92 100s: 4 Wkts: 10

Since January 2014, he has averaged 72.19 in Tests, more than double of what he averaged in first three years of international cricket. During the same period, his ODI average has also gone up by a whopping 21. He has scored hundreds in Australia, England, West Indies, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Zimbabwe during this period, thus underlining his credentials as a man for all conditions, for all seasons. With the kind of form he showed in past couple of years, not only did he grow in stature as a batsman, but also as a leader. His prolific run-making and astute understanding of the game had ensured the baton was forwarded to him once McCullum called it quits.

The flag bearer

Once McCullum retired from international cricket earlier this year, Williamson was handed over the captaincy of New Zealand team across formats on a full time basis. He had captained the ODI side before as well, but it was the first Time he was handed over the reins of the Test side. But in this limited time, Williamson has given ample signs that the team is moving in the right direction under him. The fearless approach with which the BlackCaps side played under McCullum has been retained. It was evident by the brand of cricket his side displayed in the ICC World T20 2016 in India during its run to the semi-final.

Amidst all this, he has ensured the burden of captaincy does not affect his batting too. Though the sample size is small, but the signs of his dominance as a batsman in future are extremely positive.

Performance in Tests as the captain of New Zealand
Matches: 4 Runs: 356 HS: 113 Avg: 89 100s: 1 Wkts: 0
Performance in ODIs as the captain of New Zealand
Matches: 19 Runs: 913 HS: 123 Avg: 53.70 100s: 1 Wkts: 2

McCullum led the side for a considerably long time. He encouraged his players to play with a lot of freedom and cultivated a culture which helped the team stick together and perform as a unit. Williamson has seamlessly transformed as the leader of the same group and has retained the same culture. He is taking forward the legacy of McCullum era incredibly well and is destined to achieve greatness both as a player and as a leader. Not just because he has a brilliant technique or temperament, but because he has a humble, astute cricketing brain over his shoulders too.

Come September 22, and Williamson will face another stern challenge, possibly the biggest in his short career as captain so far, when his side takes on India in their own backyard. The spotlight shall as much be on him as his counterpart Kohli. The pressure is going to be huge. But having followed his career graph so far, it can safely be said that is something which will have no bearing on him.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)