Kane Williamson knew that had a couple of things gone in New Zealand’s favour on Sunday, they could have won their first bilateral series in India. The Black Caps looked in command in chase of 338-run target but only two overs cost them the match. Tom Latham was brilliant once again and he New Zealand needed him to stay till the end. But, Colind de Grandhomme froze which cost Latham’s wicket.
New Zealand could not reach the target, falling short of it by seven runs. It was agaonisingly close and Williamson admitted that it is a defeat ‘hard to swallow’.
“Naturally you look back at a game, to lose by six runs, having come so close in a big run chase, is frustrating, disappointing,” Williamson said at the post match conference. “It is hard to swallow, another decider here in India, but if you sit back and look at the work that was put in in that batting innings to get so close, it is a really promising thing for this batting unit. I think we put in some good performances, but you have got to be at your best when you play this Indian team, especially at home.”
Williamson noted that it was a performance that they can learn from and be better next time. New Zealand do not want to think more about the ifs and buts of the game but focus more on what lies ahead of this performance.
“When you do come so close to victory, you can look at hundreds of different little things and go what if, but at the end of the day you can’t really do that. You need to accept it. Whenever you lose, whether it is by one run or you win by 100 runs, you still want to learn from the performance and be better next time. I think that’s where our focus will be,” Williamson said.
“There were some lessons throughout the series; there always are when you play the best in the world. To perform the way we did in the first game was our best performance of the tour so far. This one could have been the best performance but it wasn’t to be on the day. A lot of good signs. I thought the bowlers stuck at it really well. Good surfaces. They were able to restrict a lot of the time and put a little bit of pressure despite the very good batting unit that India have. Our middle order with the bat was something of a highlight throughout this series. Particularly Tom Latham, from opening the batting to coming into the middle order, taking that role, adopting it like he has and batting so beautifully, it was a great sign for us.”
The New Zealand captain praise of middle-order was later elaborated. He said that adapting to Indian conditions is always a challege and they did well in these conditions.
“In general, it is a challenge adapting here. Conditions are fairly different, but I thought we did it fairly well. To come into the first game and adapt and play like we did was really promising. In the second game, it was a point that we made, reflecting on that loss, that we could have adapted and communicated a little bit better to the change of surface. I suppose that brings us to this game. And I thought we did it pretty well. On a good surface, on a new ground again, which you do have to, I suppose, think on your feet when you turn up and make those decisions and learn as quickly as you can.
“Naturally being the touring side, you don’t have as much experience on some of these surfaces. There are a lot of good signs. Such a fine line this game of cricket. We saw today, six runs. You look throughout the innings; there is this ball, that ball. At the end of the day, you have to let it go and accept that throughout the series India were the better team,” he added.
India’s total of 337 for the loss of 6 wickets was something Williamson did not want after winning the toss and electing to bowl. But, New Zealand bowlers did well to bounce back in final 10 overs as India were cruising after Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma hit centuries.
“If you bowl first, you don’t want the opposition to get 337, but it was a very good surface and a very fast outfield. After the start India got, the way we pulled it back in the last 10 overs was a good effort,” said Williamson referring to the period when Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma had switched gears and India looked on course for at least 350-370.
“The way the ball swung early on, you are never far away from perhaps taking some early wickets, but they are a very good batting unit and they played very well today. To restrict them was a good effort, the dew later in the evening was helpful, but like I said you have got to move on, learn from that. There were a lot of good signs. Chasing a total like that you do need to play well. I thought guys executed their roles really well. It did come down to perhaps one or two deliveries.”