Sat, 16 Jan 2021

Williamson in full control of the game as he hits 150

ESPNCricInfo
04 Dec 2020, 10:43 GMT+10

5:53 AM IST

Lunch: New Zealand 346 for 4 (Williamson 168*, Blundell 8*, Roach 2-71, Gabriel 2-74 vs West Indies

Control your game, you control the game. That is Kane Williamson in a nutshell. Every defining trait of his batting -the obsession with playing late, the aversion to hitting in the air, the freakish ability to never ever follow a swinging ball - is an effort to put his team in the best possible position to win a Test match and he did just that, while also scoring the 22nd century of his career.

West Indies couldn't hold a consistent line and length at the start of play on day one, but since the first break in play at Hamilton, they've been able to settle into better rhythm. They tested Williamson with a fuller length in line with the stumps. But most of all, they were getting better at hitting the same spot on the pitch over and over again. That is key on this pitch.

Williamson recognised the danger and adapted accordingly. He shelved the expansive shots. He steeled himself for periods when he wouldn't score any runs. He was so precise especially with the deliveries that he was comfortable attacking. If they were full and wide, and he could reach the pitch of the ball, he went for the drive. And even then, he wouldn't let the bat follow through away from his body. If it was short and wide, he stood tall and smashed 'em square on the off side.

One of those trademark back foot punches was how he got to his century in the third over of the day. Then he just kicked the heck on. His third fifty came off just 82 balls. His fourth already beckons.

While Williamson's decision making enabled him to score, his unyielding technique protected him from being dismissed.

Kemar Roach was able to conjure several dangerous deliveries, routinely going wide of the crease in search of the outside edge. Thanks to his remarkable ability to straighten the ball away no matter how steep the angle is into the right-hander, he is a constant wicket-taking threat.

Williamson faced several jaffas like those and although he was beaten more than once, he never looked like nicking off. It isn't the first time the New Zealand captain has exhibited such slipperiness. For some reason, he seems immune to the very human instinct to follow the ball, especially when it threatens to move late. If you're even a half decent batsman, you want to feel bat on ball. If you're a great one, you just know better.

Still, in a five-day game, mistakes are bound to happen. Unfortunately for West Indies, they would only come at the other end. Shannon Gabriel secured the outside edge of Ross Taylor's bat in the second over of the day. Roach had Henry Nicholls flashing outside his off stump. Those two wickets in the first hour of play threatened the notion that West Indies would be able to limit the damage they let happen on the first day. Instead, they ended up feeling like the villains in a Scooby Doo cartoon. "I would've gotten away with it if not for that meddling Kane."

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