Sunday (April 25), Match 20th of the IPL 2021 – Kane Williamson arrives to the crease at No.3 with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) setting their eyes on the target of 160 against Delhi Capitals (DC).
On another slow, abrasive track in Chepauk, only one SRH batter looks comfortable playing spin past the initial stage as Williamson plays anchor through the chase and finishes with an unbeaten 66 off 51 deliveries in his team’s 159/7.
Wednesday (April 28), Match 23rd of the IPL 2021 – this time Kane Williamson walks to the playing arena at No.5 in the SRH batting unit as the 2016 champions look to post an intimidating score on the board after winning the toss and surprisingly opting to bat first.
Williamson, recognising the situation and the need for a final flourish, plays aggressor and blazes his willow for a quickfire 26 off just 10 deliveries, including 4 fours and 1 maximum to push SRH to a total of 171/3.
On both instances, SRH suffer painful defeats, but Kane Williamson makes sure he plays his part to perfection and reinforces that, even though his team is plagued with multiple problems, he is definitely not one of those. After his two innings, it shouldn’t be up for debate who is SRH’s most skillful and robust batsman.
Williamson can anchor a chase against DC with a measured half-century in Chennai just as competently as he can dominate in the closing stages of an innings versus CSK in Delhi. It shows his range and flexibility, and remarkably so, without ever having to mend his natural style of play.
Kane Williamson shows remarkable flexibility without mending his natural game
Kane Williamson transitions ever so smoothly from the batsman who can guide his team from an end to the one who attacks at his own expense for the larger goal. And incredibly, Williamson never loses the charm of his strokeplay and retains perfect shape even while playing the big shots, relying on timing the ball as always instead of belting it out of the park.
And yet, SRH deemed Williamson unfit for the balance of their team at the start of the tournament and kept him on the benches. It happened last year as well, but even then, the Kiwi batting great had responded with terrific performances and ended with 317 runs from 12 matches at an average of 45.28 and strike-rate of 133.75.
Over time, Kane Williamson has made significant improvements to his T20 game while never compromising his innate strengths. Williamson 2.0 has come to the fore since the start of IPL 2018, a tournament in which he arrived after facing genuine questions marks on his T20 prowess.
In a breakthrough season, Williamson proved his naysayers wrong while leading SRH from the front through to the competition final. He scored a whopping 735 runs at a strike-rate of 142.44 while averaging 52.50.
Kane Williamson looked in control with the bat and also on the leadership front, raising voices in favour of his possible retention at the helm even when Warner returned the following summer.
That can still happen, though, as SRH, despite making successive playoffs in preceding years, reach a stage where they can ill-afford to continue without a proper revamp if they are to reclaim the IPL crown in future.
Kane Williamson can be an ideal guy to rebuild the team around from the next IPL season, with David Warner’s individual game declining significantly in the last couple of years.