New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson
New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson plays a shot during the match against South Africa at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham. Image Credit: AP

Southampton: Displaying one of the finest knocks by a captain, Kane Williamson helped New Zealand remain unbeaten through an exciting four-wicket victory over South Africa with only three balls to spare at the Edgbaston on Wednesday. When asked if he considers his 106 off 136 balls among his best knocks in One Day Internationals, his response was a very practical one. He said he hadn’t really thought much about it since he was batting all the while. “But it’s just really nice to build those sorts of partnerships with the middle and lower order that were so crucial, and having that experience in those sorts of situations as a collective is a really beneficial thing,” he added.

Williamson also mentioned that he really does not rank his innings, “but each time you can try and go out and contribute to a winning performance is something that you’re always wanting to do, and it was nice I was able to achieve that today”.

While mentioning that he always tries to enjoy his batting, and that helps him perform such knocks, the New Zealand skipper also gave credit to his teammate Colin de Grandhomme for his valuable support. “It was certainly enjoyable batting with him and his knock of an unbeaten 67 made a big difference,” said Williamson. “It was a great game of cricket on a surface that was tough for both sides, and it required both teams to adapt. So surfaces like these creates matches like we played today. And I am happy to be a part of, and happier to come out on top.”

Williamson was particularly concerned about what his innings looked like, in terms of whether it was attractive. For the spectators it was one of those brilliant fighting knocks. “You’re just trying to do the job as best as you can and commit to the team rather than perhaps your own, and also not get caught up in what it looks like,” he said. “I try to build those sorts of partnerships because 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 our 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.”

The pressure to reach the target was very high especially after New Zealand got off to a poor start. So how did he maintain his cool and play such a knock? “I suppose it’s just trying to focus on the task and what we need to achieve and throw a number of different things into the equation and try to make the best decision you can,” he said. “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 today. So, as a team, this was a really good experience in this tournament.”

The Kiwi skipper added: “Such knocks do not happen often. But it was just important for us today to take the game to a stage where we’re sort of keeping track of the overs, who was bowling what, and trying to assess some of the bigger threats on that surface on the long side, the short side. Surely it was nice that all of it went in our favour today.”

Williamson admitted that it was a wicket that challenged everyone. “It was one of those wickets that, if you were able to squeeze and apply pressure, which they did, then they certainly weren’t far away from perhaps getting across the line themselves,” he said. “But we were able to take the game to a stage where we gave ourselves a chance to win it, and we did it.”