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New Zealand ace batter Kane Williamson is hoping to keep his emotions in check when he plays his 100th Test on Friday against Australia Image Credit: AFP

Christchurch: One piles up runs, the other piles up wickets. Both Kane Williamson and Tim Southee will hope to add to their hauls when they play their 100th Test match against Australia in Christchurch this week.

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Few New Zealand cricketers have done more for the nation as individuals, so it is fitting they will celebrate the milestone as a collective at Hagley Oval from Friday.

Not that either will be eager to soak up the attention or even betray much emotion as the Black Caps look to bounce back from defeat in Wellington.

“Although Tim and I have a bit of attention coming into this game, it’s about the team, what we need to try and do as a side and what we need to improve on,” Williamson told reporters on Wednesday with a shrug.

Fastest to score 32 Test centuries

“I don’t know [how I’ll feel]. So if you see me crying then you can say, ‘I told you’.”

At 33, the mild-mannered Tauranga man is still very much in his prime.

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Kane Williamson signs autographs for fans. Image Credit: AFP

New Zealand’s greatest batter became the fastest man to 32 Test centuries in the recent series win against South Africa, and joined Don Bradman and Steve Smith as the only players to score five hundreds in five home Tests in succession.

With 378 Test wickets, 35-year-old captain Southee is second only to Richard Hadlee (431) in New Zealand’s all-time list and could eclipse the knighted quick in another couple of seasons.

Under pressure

Both Southee and Williamson have led the team with distinction, the former having succeeded the latter as Test captain at the end of 2022.

Williamson took New Zealand to the inaugural World Test Championship title in 2021, while the Black Caps remain unbeaten in five series under Southee.

Yet both players have arrived in Christchurch under pressure to perform against New Zealand’s long-time nemesis.

The Black Caps have won only one Test in 24 against the Australians this century and were crushed by 172 runs at the Basin Reserve.

Williamson, who boasts a Test batting average of 55.25 and above 80 in victory, has a middling average of 37.26 in Tests against Australia.

He was run out comically for a duck in Wellington after clattering into opener Will Young and later caught for nine in a leg-side trap against wily spinner Nathan Lyon.

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New Zealand's Tim Southee (centre) celebrates with his teammates after getting a wicket during the first Test. Image Credit: AFP

Southee, who has also tended to struggle against Australia, had two wickets in the series-opener and left New Zealand’s capital under fire over his bowling changes in the first innings when Cameron Green got away with an unbeaten century.

Harsh lessons

New Zealand will likely need at least one of Southee or Williamson to fire, and probably both, if they are to have any chance of squaring the two-Test series against an Australian team rated among the best the nation has produced.

Williamson will lean on his 99 previous Tests for inspiration, both the highlights and the harsh lessons.

“It’s never a perfect journey,” he said.

“The learning — physically, mentally — the reflection, the memories of almost every Test that when you sit down and dissect it, there’s so much that you do recall.

“But it’s a journey, and the highlights aren’t there without the other.”