Following his match-winning century against South Africa on Wednesday (June 19), New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said he was keeping a track on which bowler had how many overs left so that he can plan his innings accordingly.
Williamson scored 106* off 138 deliveries and only went after South Africa’s fifth bowler – Andile Phehlukwayo. The right-hander didn’t take unnecessary risks against frontline bowlers and took the match till the final over where he thumped Phehlukwayo for a 6 and 4 to push his team over the line.
“I suppose it’s just trying to focus on the task and what we need to try and achieve and throw a number of different things into the equation and try to make the best decision you can. It doesn’t always come off, but it was nice we were able to take the game to a stage where we were able to get across the line,” said Williamson.
“It was just important for us today to take the game to a stage where we’re sort of keeping track of the overs and who was bowling what and trying to assess some of the — perhaps the bigger threats on that surface on the long side, the short side, and it was nice that it was able to go in our favor today.
“If you’re able to communicate with your partner, hopefully, that can help with decision-making. And at the end of the day, you’re just wanting to make the best decisions you can despite at times struggling through different periods of an innings. That’s the nature of the sport that you come out against different opposition.
“Obviously, in a tournament like this, you’re playing the best, and you’re playing on a number of different surfaces. So, so many different things to perhaps take into account and try to weather as a player and as a team.”
The wicket was among the slowest of the tournament so far, with South Africa making 241 from their 49 overs, before New Zealand were reduced to 80 for 4. Williamson said he was just looking to build a partnership but Colin de Grandhomme’s knock made life easier for him.
“I was just trying to build some sort of partnership to get the game in a death phase, I suppose, in terms of being able to play with a bit more freedom and try to get a bit more momentum. We were able to do that in small bits, but obviously, the partnership and the knock from Colin was outstanding in terms of swinging that momentum, and he hit the ball beautifully.”
While most of the other batsmen in world cricket rely on boundaries these days, Williamson is slightly more old school. Williamson said he is someone who always looks to build partnerships, especially on slower surfaces.
“You’re just trying to do the job as best as you can and commit to the team playing rather than perhaps your own and not get caught up in what it looks like. And just, like I say, try to build those sorts of partnerships because naturally when you’re chasing, there’s a total there that sort of dictates your play.
“There’s been a number of varying scores throughout this competition. I suppose weather has had a little bit to do with it, but we’ve been on a variety of surfaces, and it’s been nice that guys have adapted well. We know that, coming into the back end of the tournament, there will be some extremely tough games on different wickets again, and we’ll have to wait and see what they hold for us.
New Zealand had it slightly easy against Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in their first three games, while their match against India was washed out. Williamson said a close game like this will help them going ahead into the tournament.
“There’s a huge amount to learn from this performance. I think I mentioned a couple of times the experiences that you have by being put under pressure on a number of different occasions, whether it’s with the bat or the ball, having close games in tournaments like the World Cup are great to be a part of, especially when you come out on the right side of things.”
The Black Caps are currently at the top of the table but Williamson isn’t taking anything for granted.
“There’s still a number of games left, and as we know in these sorts of tournaments, things can go in a number of different ways. You always see, I guess, sides that are ranked lower beat sides that are ranked higher and all these different sorts of things.
“For us, we’re focusing on the cricket that we want to play and try and improve day in and day out.”