Kane Williamson is perhaps New Zealand's best player of spin © Getty Images
Kane Williamson is perhaps New Zealand’s best player of spin © Getty Images

Pakistan will take on New Zealand in the first Test at Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The hosts are coming off a commanding 2-0 whitewash against Australia. If New Zealand are to prosper in the series, it is up to the batsmen to deliver. Shiamak Unwalla feels that Kane Williamson could be the man who could make a big impact for the Kiwis.

Kane Williamson is a special player. Of that there is no doubt. He perhaps lacks the numbers to back up his claims to glory, but the talent is there for all to see. He is one of the rare ilks of young batsmen who have the ability to excel in any format.

Much can be said and written about him, but perhaps one of the most telling signs that Williamson could one day be a truly great player is the county side he currently plays for: Yorkshire. The Yorkshiremen are known for being perhaps the strictest, meanest team in the world when it comes to choosing an overseas player. Sample this: their first ever overseas signing was a man who would go on to score 100 international centuries and hold most batting records in existence, Sachin Tendulkar. For a county that has produced a host of legendary players like Herbert Sutcliffe, Sir Len Hutton, Geoff Boycott, George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes, Hedley Verity, and Fred Trueman, among others, excellence is almost a pre-requisite.

One of the major reasons Williamson could hold the key for New Zealand is that he is perhaps the best player of spin in the current line-up. He has done well against almost all the sub-continent sides with the exception of Pakistan. Ironically though, he was dismissed to a pace bowler in each of the four innings in that series. Below is Williamson’s performance against each of the four sub-continent sides since his Test debut.

Opponent

Period

M

Runs

HS

Ave

100s

50s

Bangladesh

2013-2013

2

250

114

83.3

1

2

India

2010-2014

7

496

131

38.2

2

2

Pakistan

2011-2011

2

87

50

21.8

0

1

Sri Lanka

2012-2012

2

163

135

40.8

1

0

Williamson has played a lot against India, both at home and away. His average of 38.2 might not seem like a lot, but only Brendon McCullum has scored more runs against them for New Zealand in the same period — and one of his innings was a triple century.

What is also noteworthy is that Williamson has never played a Test in the UAE. However, his numbers in Asia are encouraging. He has played all his Tests against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in their own backyard, but while his average against India falls by a couple of runs, it remains respectable.

Host nation

Period

M

Runs

HS

Ave

100s

50s

Bangladesh

2013-2013

2

250

114

83.3

1

2

India

2010-2012

5

326

131

36.2

1

2

Sri Lanka

2012-2012

2

163

135

40.8

1

0

He remains New Zealand’s second-highest run-scorer in India since 2010, again bettered only by McCullum. However, Jesse Ryder averages much more than him — 54.8 to Williamson’s 36.2 — and has been more of a thorn in India’s flesh than Williamson has.

According to the statistics, McCullum is likely to do well in this series too. However, since scoring 302 against India, he has yet to cross 35 in a Test match. Williamson, on the other hand, has scored three tons, a half-century, and three forties in his last five Tests. One feels that he could be one of the deciding factors for New Zealand in this series. If he can continue his consistent display, Pakistan could find the Kiwis a tougher nut to crack than the other team from Down Under they just whitewashed.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)