Kane Williamson's top 3 performances under pressure as Test captain

India v New Zealand - ICC World Test Championship Final: Day 5
Kane Williamson is New Zealand's most successful Test captain

Kane Williamson stepped down as New Zealand's Test captain on December 15. The elegant right-handed batter led the country in 40 Tests - winning 22, losing 10 and drawing 8. Fast bowler Tim Southee will now take over the reins.

Williamson led New Zealand to victory in the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship in 2021 against India. This was also New Zealand's first ICC trophy since their Champions Trophy win in 2000.

The skipper to win the inaugural World Test Championship 🖤 Kane Williamson's legacy 🙌

We look at three instances when the former skipper stepped up for the team in pressure situations.

#1 49 & 52* vs India, WTC final 2021, Southampton

"A nation on your shoulders, depending on you for deliverance" - Ian Bishop, 4th innings of the WTC final

The final of the World Test Championship was a high-octane battle between two quality Test teams. New Zealand won the toss and put India in to bat first. India scored 217 in the first innings in conditions that were highly conducive for the Kiwi pace quartet of Boult, Southee, Wagner and Jamieson.

In response, New Zealand started quite well, ending Day 3 with the scoreboard reading 104/2. On Day 5, India made a strong comeback, triggering a middle-order collapse.

However, Williamson exhibited a masterclass in defensive batting while nursing an injured elbow. He scored 49 runs off 177 deliveries against a world-class Indian bowling attack. The Kiwi batter's presence allowed the lower-order batters to play their natural game and chip in with crucial runs that allowed them to take a 32-run lead.

India was bundled out for just 170 runs in the third innings. The batters failed to apply themselves like Williamson, setting New Zealand a target of 139 runs. It could still have been a tricky run-chase. The Kiwis lost their first two wickets for 44 runs with the skipper surviving an LBW scare against Ravichandran Ashwin.

Williamson played out a tough initial phase, after which Taylor started taking on the bowlers. This allowed the captain to target the right bowlers. Eventually, Williamson upped the ante. He scored a magnificent 52* off just 89 deliveries, leading New Zealand to the title.

#2 89 & 139 vs Pakistan, Abu Dhabi 2018

New Zealand beat Pakistan 2-1 in the UAE in a historic Test series win in 2018. It remains one of Kane Williamson's underrated performances as captain and batter. He scored 386 runs in three matches at an average of over 77.

New Zealand won the first game by just four runs in a thrilling encounter. Pakistan bounced back, winning the next game by an innings and 16 runs. The two teams met each other in the decider in Abu Dhabi.

Williamson won the toss and elected to bat first. NZ was struggling at 72/4 following which the skipper top-scored with a fine 89 off 176 deliveries (seven fours) and took the total to 274.

In response, Pakistan took a 74-run lead. Williamson once again stepped up for the team when the Kiwis were 60/4 and yet to erase Pakistan's lead. He scored one of the finest Test hundreds by an overseas batter in Asian conditions.

The Kiwi batter exhibited quality strokeplay against spin and pace alike and led the team to a memorable 123-run win.

#3 77 vs South Africa, Centurion 2016

Some 70’s are better than HundredsKane Williamson 77 (NZ 214) and Henry Nicholls 76 (NZ 195) vs SA, 2016…

New Zealand locked horns with South Africa in the second match of the tour in Centurion after the first game ended as a rain-affected draw. Hence, this game was essentially a must-win for both teams.

South Africa batted first and scored 481/8 in the first innings of the Test. It was a brilliant effort in seamer-friendly conditions. In response, New Zealand were bundled out for just 214 runs.

However, Williamson played a masterful knock of 77 runs with barely any support apart from a couple of cameos from Henry Nicholls (36) and Neil Wagner (31). The opposition bowling attack was deadly - Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada - all of whom looked at their destructive best in this Test.

It was a relatively underrated performance when we talk about the Kiwi batter's heroics in red-ball cricket. The Kiwi finished weathered the storm perfectly and displayed a wide array of shots against one of the best bowling attacks in the business.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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