Williamson (251) puts New Zealand in dominant position against West Indies

SUMMARY: West Indies 49-0 (Campbell 22*, Brathwaite 20*) trail New Zealand 519-7 declared (Williamson 251, Latham 86, Jamieson 51*, Gabriel 3-89, Roach 3-114) by 470 runs


Control your game, you control the game. That is Kane Williamson in a nutshell. Every defining trait of his batting – the obsession with playing late, the aversion to hitting in the air, the freakish ability to never ever follow a swinging ball – is an effort to put his team in the best possible position to win a Test match and he did just that, while also scoring a career-best 251.

West Indies couldn’t hold a consistent line and length at the start of play on day one, but since the first break in play at Hamilton, they settled into better rhythm. Those good habits filtered into their openers as well with Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell batting out 26 testing overs to stumps.

They showed great determination and skill. They had to after watching an opposition batsman dominate for almost 150 overs.

Williamson was so precise with his decision-making. If a ball was full and wide and he could reach the pitch of it, he went for the drive. That was how he went past 200.

If it was short and wide, he stood tall and smashed ’em square on the off side. That is how he went past 100. If it wasn’t any of those things, he called on his unyielding technique to protect him from being dismissed.

Kemar Roach was able to conjure several dangerous deliveries, routinely going wide of the crease in search of the outside edge. With his remarkable ability to straighten the ball no matter how steep the angle is into the right-hander, he was a constant threat.

Williamson faced several jaffas like those and although he was beaten more than once, he never looked like nicking off. It isn’t the first time the New Zealand captain has exhibited such slipperiness.

For some reason, he seems immune to the very human instinct to follow the ball, especially when it threatens to move late. If you’re even a half-decent batsman, you want to feel bat on ball. If you’re a great one, you just know better.

West Indies Kemar Roach reacts to a not out appeal during play on day two of the first cricket test between the West Indies and New Zealand in Hamilton, New Zealand, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)

These really aren’t easy conditions to bat in. The amount of grass on the pitch preserves that red Kookaburra so that even at 80 overs, it keeps swinging and seaming. And yet Williamson, all through the second session, was going at monster pace.

He bolted from 136 off 294 at the end of the 103rd over to 251 off 412 when he was finally dismissed. That’s 115 runs off 118 balls and in light of such mastery, even fate couldn’t help but fall for him.

On 221, after Williamson had dismissed Roach to the long-on and midwicket boundaries with devastating authority, he was caught behind to an outswinger. But even as he was leaving the field, after more than 550 minutes at the crease, the cricket gods decided they wanted more.

They wanted to see more shots like that audacious flick down the ground. A full ball outside the off stump, searching for his outside edge, had no business being treated that way.

But it was and it was thanks to Williamson’s wristwork, his balance and the way he stood tall and waited for it to get right under his eyes. It was all quite mesmerising. So, naturally, the gods made the one ball that was good enough to take Williamson’s edge a no-ball.

They couldn’t protect him from himself though. As he went for back-to-back sixes in order to enable a declaration, he was caught at deep midwicket.

Kyle Jamieson, who may be prompting people to start calling him an all-rounder, also chipped in with his maiden Test half-century to lift New Zealand to 519-7.

West Indies would have been dreaming of a very different day. It had begun with Shannon Gabriel securing Ross Taylor’s wicket in the second over of the morning. Roach had Henry Nicholls flashing outside his off stump.

Those two wickets in the first hour of play threatened the notion that West Indies would be able to limit the damage they let happen on the first day. Instead, they ended up like the villains in a Scooby Doo cartoon. “I would’ve gotten away with it if not for that meddling Kane.” (ESPNCricinfo)

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