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Williamson hails “special performance” by Boult

Kane Williamson looked like a load had been lifted off his shoulders after the second One-Day International against India at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi. Not only did New Zealand pull off a nail-biting six-run win, their first on what has been a grueling tour, but the New Zealand captain was able to return to form with 118 off 128 balls after some lean pickings.

“Winning is better than losing, that’s for sure,” said Williamson on Thursday (October 20), with a wry smile on his face, on getting out of the rut they were in with four losses on the trot since the Test series began.

What stood out on a surface that aided spin was the performance of the seamers, especially Trent Boult (2 for 25) and Tim Southee ( 3 for 52), as the visiting team successfully defended 242 for 9. New Zealand had missed the services of both Boult and Matt Henry in the previous ODI in Dharamsala, with workload management being the priority due to the high number of overs they had bowled during the Test series, but both had an immediate impact upon their return.

“It was nice to get a total on the board, albeit it was a little off from where we wanted it to be. Saying that, it was a tough surface to increase the scoring rate and it was quite a slow and low bounce. And India bowled really well. At the halfway break, although we knew we were a little bit short, we knew what the surface was like from the way India bowled on it.

“I think it was a fantastic effort by our seam bowlers, led by Trent Boult. To restrict or squeeze them on this surface was the only way to do it because they certainly weren’t going to be blasted out.”

Boult had witnessed from the sidelines just how well India’s seamers had performed in Dharamsala and ahead of this match, he had spoken about how those early wickets had put pressure on New Zealand’s batsmen. Here, he showed that he too could keep the opposition on a tight rein. He might have only taken one wicket upfront, that of Rohit Sharma, but he ramped up the pressure with tight lines and offered no freebies whatsoever.


“He was extremely clever, the way he tried to swing the ball early and then made the adjustment to come around the wicket with the low bounce not to give width,” praised Williamson. “He was extremely accurate and a huge reason why we got across the line today. His 10 overs for 25 runs doesn’t happen very often and certainly a special performance in order for us to get the win.”

The fielding as well was exemplary from New Zealand. There was the sharp run out of Manish Pandey and a good catch under pressure from Mitchell Santner to dismiss Hardik Pandya, who was threatening to take the game away from the visitors, but the pièce de résistance was Southee’s return catch to nab Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The India captain was set on 39 when he prodded the ball back to Southee. It was dying on him, but the paceman changed swerved to his right, thrust his hand and the ball stuck.

“Those are huge moments in the game,” acknowledged Williamson. “Someone like MS Dhoni can finish matches when he’s about to play his shots, he’s the best in the world. That moment where Tim took that catch was a big play for us. In the fielding and bowling in general, we wanted to go out there on that surface and fight. It was one of those surfaces where scrapping was important to try and build up that pressure. With a slightly damp ball, it was an extremely good effort in the field and the ball in hand.”

Williamson, typically self-effacing, didn’t have much to say on his hundred in difficult circumstances other than that he was happy to contribute to the team’s success. But even in the afterglow of the win, he remained grounded.

“It’s nice to get a win today, but at the same time we didn’t want to be chasing the win,” he explained. “We wanted to improve. I think it’s great we showed some signs of improvement from the previous game, which is always our focus, so if we can now improve going into Mohali, it’s important. We’re up against a very good Indian side. They showed again today the fight we know they have. We need to touch on some areas and be better again the next game.”

Source: wisdenindia

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