Kane Williamson is already being hailed as New Zealand’s finest batting talent after Martin Crowe.
There is so much quality on view when this 23-year-old Tauranga-born batsman is in the middle that he demands attention.
For New Zealand, Williamson has been a rock at No. 3. It’s a crucial slot that can involve both rebuilding and consolidation.
Williamson’s pleasing 113 – his fifth hundred in Tests – was a crucial effort for the Kiwis here on Thursday.
“It was tough initially. There was some help for the bowlers. We wanted to win the toss,” he said at the end of the opening day’s play in the first Test here.
The modest Williamson said, “The pitch played better after lunch. It’s nice to contribute, put the team in a good position.”
On his formula for his success this season, Williamson said, “I have been trying to be relaxed in the middle, even during tough situations. If your mind stays calm, you take better decisions.”
Williamson notched up five successive half-centuries in the recent ODI series against India but failed to reach the three-figure mark.
It was a different scenario here with the right-hander getting to his century with his captain Brendon McCullam at the other end.
“A Test hundred is always precious. I thought Brendon was the front-runner in the partnership, set the tone. I played my part as well,” said Williamson.
The Kiwi added, “After his century, Brendon added another 40 odd runs to his score which is very important. Brendon, as captain, the way he has led from the front, has been outstanding.”
Williamson, who made his debut against India in Ahmedabad, 2010, felt the Indian bowlers did ask some questions. “All of them, Zaheer, Shami and Ishant were testing on different occasions. After lunch, the pitch became good for batting.”
The New Zealand batsman was unwilling to put a number on how much his team would need in the first innings.
But he said, “How we bowl with the new ball, make inroads will be critical. The Indians have a good line-up and the new ball is the key.”
Williamson was looking forward to bowling his off-spinners as well in the later part of the Test.
He has 1794 runs from 29 Tests at 35.88. That average should be a lot higher when Williamson finishes.
Ishant reaches landmark
For India, Ishant was the pick of the bowlers. The paceman also went past the 150-wickets mark in Tests during the day. “It is really nice when you reach a landmark for the country. I have been bowling well in Tests. I bowled to a good rhythm in South Africa too,” he said.
Ishant refused to accept that the Indians bowled poorly in the final two sessions. “The ball became older and the pitch eased out. We were still bowling in good areas. You have to give credit to the batsmen.”
On the overuse of the short-pitched bowling from the Indian pacemen, Ishant said, “Sometimes a miscued shot can go over the ‘keeper or the slips. You cannot control these things.”
Queried about the disappointing Indian slip catching, Ishant said, “As a bowler, you do feel bad when catches are put down.”