New Zealand captain and top batsman Kane Williamson feels that one can “learn a lot” by watching his contemporary Virat Kohli’s stellar performances in the ongoing ICC World T20. (STATS || POINTS TABLE || FIXTURES)
Kohli and Williamson had captained their respective countries at the U-19 level and are now considered to be among the best in their generation along with Australia’s Steve Smith and England’s Joe Root. While Kohli has already played an epic innings against Australia, Root’s 83 in a chase of 230 against South Africa has also been highly talked about.
“I would love to do that. They (Kohli and Root) have been playing brilliantly. I love both. Outstanding cricketers and they have been fantastic for a long period of time. Watching these two bat and perform in the way they have been performing, you can learn a lot,” a smiling William replied when asked if he could emulate Virat or Root with his own gem in the semi-final on Wednesday.
His innovative captaincy has been praised and Williamson attributes it to sound gameplan which has been executed well by his team. “From my perspective, I am trying to do best job I can. It is important to come up with sound gameplans, execute them well, which we have done till this point,” he said.
While he refused to divulge on the team combination but the philosophy of trying “Horses for Courses” won’t change against England.
“We are simply trying to pick ‘horses for courses’ on conditions against opposition in any given point of time. That certainly won’t change in terms of that philosophy.”
With the legendary Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori retiring from international cricket, the biggest challenge for Williamson as a captain has been leading the team through the transition phase. “I think as a group, it’s been nice to see through the transition, bringing the team together, continuing to grow. There are a number of world class bowlers (Trent Boult and Tim Southee) who have not played a game and they understand that we are picking best side in terms of surface.”
The skipper presented a dead bat when asked about Bolt and Southee’s prospects of playing on Wednesday. “Yeah they are very much ready to go. We haven’t decided on our side, looking closely at conditions and history I suppose of wickets produced.”
Williamson said that there are no scars of 2015 World Cup final loss to Australia as the team has taken steps towards improving their game. “Australia are a very good cricket side. They beat us. That’s fine as that can happen in cricket. From our perspective, we want to keep improving as a unit. Not looking too far down the track of sort of changing personalities or looking to make any drastic changes. We just want to keep taking small steps forward as a team and hope that breeds consistent improvement. At the same time, you can win and lose as T20 is fickle than any other format. Important to go into the game playing fearless cricket with freedom and play smart cricket as well,” the skipper said.
Williamson said that his boys are relaxed ahead of the big match against England. “We have made one final and lost. I didn’t look at it too closely. At the moment, the team is relaxed, like I say in cricket you can win or lose, that’s the way it goes. In T20s, it can happen at any stage. We have been playing good cricket up until now. We are up against a very strong England side that will be trying to win the game. We are looking forward to it.”
Williamson said that they will have to consider the track for this match before deciding whether they can field senior off-spinner Nathan McCullum with as many three left-handers (Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali) in the opposition side.
“Yeah, I think we need to look at the conditions before deciding on our final side. Naturally, we have to consider the track that we are playing on and the ground size, also opposition. At this stage, we are yet to decide.”
He did consider that England hold a slight advantage having played two matches here already. “Yeah, I suppose England have been fortunate to play in these conditions a couple of times. But look, I think in T20 cricket, anything can happen. In terms of favourites, every team is strong, coming into this tournament. Each side believed that they can go all the way and England are no different. It’s same about the other semi-final (India versus West Indies). It’s an exciting occasion tomorrow night and one that the guys are looking forward to it.”
Williamson said that he is not surprised seeing England’s transformation in the past one year after their inglorious exit from 50-over World Cup. “I am not surprised at all. Having played a bit of county cricket, I have seen all these guys quite a lot and know how good a player they are. When I saw the team on paper, you knew it was going to be a tough challenge. They play aggressive cricket and fearless cricket and no surprise to me that they are in the semi-finals of World Cup.”