Kane Williamson – ” It was important that Guptill and I communicated and played some smart cricket” © AFP
Twenty fours and four sixes were struck between them, but “smart cricket” was the cornerstone of the searing opening stand between himself and Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson said.
The pair hit a world record 171 in each other’s company, to make light work of Pakistan’s 168 for 7. Williamson said it had been he and his partner’s ability to account for the asymmetrical dimensions of the Hamilton ground, and the particular strengths of Pakistan’s bowlers, that allowed the stand to flourish.
Damage to the Seddon Park square during the recent Test match featuring Sri Lanka had meant a surface towards the eastern end of the block had to be used for this T20. This in turn brought the eastern boundary to 52 metres, while the square boundary on the other side of the pitch was lengthened to 75 metres.
Williamson in particular targeted the short side of the ground during his career-best 72 off 48 balls, memorably shuffling towards the off side to hit consecutive legside fours off Mohammad Amir, in the fifth over.
“No T20 is the same, and here at Seddon Park you’re not just taking the opposition into account, you’re very much identifying the dimensions of the ground, the pitch and using that as part of your planning,” Williamson said. “That comes into your thinking as a bowling unit and a batting unit.
“With one boundary very small, naturally there’s going to be the odd boundary hit there. Then there’s the wind going to the long boundary which also helps hit to that side of the ground.”
New Zealand hit 59 from the Powerplay, but were unusually reticent against Shahid Afridi in that period, scoring only 11 off his two overs. Williamson said there had been purchase and turn for Afridi on the pitch. Afridi was also generating significant drift.
“Afridi is a world class legspinner,” Williamson said. “Today on that surface it was holding and turning a little bit, so for us it was making sure that there’s smart cricket at times amongst Guptill’s sixes and fours.
“All Pakistan’s bowlers are danger men – they are all very good bowlers. Depending on the surface, some more than others. It was important that Guptill and I communicated and played some smart cricket. I think we were a bit better at doing that today than we were in the last match.”
Williamson and Guptill’s stand surpassed the 170 made by Loots Bosman and Graeme Smith against England. New Zealand’s highest T20 partnership before this game had been the 137 against Zimbabwe by the same pair in 2012.
“Records are not something that we set out to do,” Williamson said. “We set out to lay a platform and play to the gameplan. If records come that’s nice, but more importantly, we got across the line to set up a nice finish to the T20 series.”
Corey Anderson had played as a specialist batsman during the Sri Lanka series, as he continues to recover from a back injury. He has now begun bowling in matches, and was effective for New Zealand on Sunday, taking 1 for 26 from his four overs. He had been cheap with the new ball, conceding only 12 from his three Powerplay overs.
“The likes of Corey standing up after not playing much cricket, and opening the bowling as well, was a superb effort from him,” Williamson said. “He bowled some tough overs at the top.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo